Super Bowl LIV is upon us

By BY MARK H. STOWERS COLUMNIST,

Good Mornin’! Good Mornin’!

The Super Bowl is upon us.

This will be number 54 or LIV in Roman numerals. There have been so many memorable ones and a few stinkers along the way. Some of the teams I cheered for seem to have been on the stinky end in those – Broncos and Bills to name a couple – and there seems to have always been a Mississippi connection.

The late Norris Weese from Ole Miss was the next quarterback up after Archie Manning in Oxford. He then went on to play in the World Football League before landing with the Broncos. He suited up for the Broncos in their loss to Dallas in Super Bowl XII. He relieved Craig Morton after his fifth interception and actually led a drive to cut the lead to 20-10 but his fumble in the fourth quarter helped Dallas put the game away, 27-10.

As luck would have it, he was named the starting QB in 1979 but a knee injury ended his career. He passed away in 1995 from bone cancer. He still holds the record for most rushing yards as a quarterback in Broncos history with 120 yards on 12 carries against the Bears in 1976.

The Bills’ famous four year run that left them 0-4 in the big game had one of the biggest Mississippi Delta connections, the late Kent Hull. I had the opportunity several years ago to chat about his career.

The former Bulldog and USFL New Jersey General anchored the Bills line for quarterback Jim Kelly. The Hall of Fame QB described his teammate and friend as the “quarterback of the offensive line, one of the best ever in the league and such a giving person. Kent played with heart and won because of his smarts.”

Most folks will remember the first Bills appearance in the Super Bowl against the Giants and with a chance to win, a last second 47-yard field goal was wide right – just barely. After the game, kicker Scott Norwood was still at his locker, in his uniform. Hull went over to his kicker and said, “Take your stuff off and get over there in the shower.” But Norwood was still too upset for the miscue and that’s when Hull explained the team concept of football.

“Had I done my job better, that 47-yard field goal might have a 33- or a 37-yard field goal. Now you go get in the shower. And I waited till he got dressed and we left together.”

Hull would play 121 games in the NFL and was captain for seven of the ten seasons in Buffalo. He made three Pro Bowls and retired to Vaiden to work his ranch. The advice he had for anyone who would listen was simple as a tennis shoe commercial.

“For anybody who aspires to do anything – a bio-chemist, an NFL player or soccer player in Spain – Go for it. Got for it wide open. But every opportunity you get to improve yourself, you do it. There are dope dealers that could have been better centers than I was. But they didn’t take advantage of the opportunity. When I got one, I jumped through it wide open. Be ready, so you can make the most of your opportunity.”

Hull passed away in 2011 from gastrointestinal bleeding due to chronic liver disease. From a third string MS State Bulldog center to four-time Super Bowl starter for the Bills. I’d say that’s pretty wide open and going for it.

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