Football

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Entry Category: Football

Aluminum Bowl

On December 22, 1956, War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock (Pulaski County) hosted the Aluminum Bowl football game. The game pitted Montana State College against St. Joseph’s College of Indiana in the first national football championship game of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA). The NAIA governs hundreds of small college athletic programs across the United States. The Aluminum Bowl marked two historic events in Arkansas. It was the first time that a national collegiate football championship game was played in Arkansas, and it is thought to be the first racially integrated college football game to be played in the state. In an era of tense race relations across the South, the game came to Little Rock due to …

Alworth, Lance Dwight “Bambi”

An All-American football player at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1961, Lance Dwight “Bambi” Alworth was the first player from the American Football League (AFL) to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Lance Alworth was born on August 3, 1940, in Houston, Texas, to Richard R. Alworth, an oilfield construction executive, and Elizabeth L. Parrish Alworth, a teacher. When he was a child, his family moved to Hog Chain, Mississippi, where his father’s company, Humble Oil, had an operation. At high school in nearby Brookhaven, Alworth won fifteen letters in four sports: baseball, basketball, football, and track. The New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates both offered Alworth contracts to play professional baseball, …

Arkansas Diamonds

The Arkansas Diamonds professional football team competed in the Continental Football League in 1968 and 1969. The Continental Football League, a fledgling professional league, operated from 1965 to 1969. A. B. Chandler, former Kentucky governor and Major League Baseball’s second commissioner, was the league’s first commissioner and provided the upstart league with a recognized level of credibility. Nevertheless, by 1968, Chandler had departed and the league was struggling to survive. Still, the Continental Football League provided players with an opportunity to be paid to play, although in 1968 team payrolls were capped at $5,000 per game, and no player could earn more than $200 per game. Furthermore, the league offered players a chance to continue playing after their collegiate careers …

Barnhill, John Henry “Barnie”

John Henry Barnhill was a successful head football coach both at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) but left the most lasting imprint in Fayetteville as UA’s athletic director. John Henry Barnhill was born on February 23, 1903, to James Monroe Barnhill and Margaret Alice Bryan in Savannah, Tennessee. His parents were farmers. Barnhill’s services were so greatly required on the family farm that they caused an interruption in his attending high school. He graduated from Savannah High School in 1923. He was nineteen when he enrolled at Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) in 1923. He transferred to the University of Tennessee in 1924 and excelled as a …

Battle of the Ravine

The Battle of the Ravine is the name most frequently used for the annual football game at Arkadelphia (Clark County) between Henderson State University (HSU) and Ouachita Baptist University (OBU). The cross-town rivalry has received widespread national media coverage through the years due to the fact that the football stadiums of the two schools are just across U.S. Highway 67 from each other. The game is promoted as the only college football rivalry in the country for which the visiting team walks rather than flies or buses to a road contest. The first game in the series was played in 1895, with Ouachita winning by a score of 8–0 on Thanksgiving Day. (At the time, Henderson was known as Arkadelphia …

Benson, Jesse N. “Buddy”

Jesse N. “Buddy” Benson earned statewide recognition in Arkansas athletic circles, first as a football player for the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) and later as the head football coach for thirty-one seasons at Ouachita Baptist University (OBU) in Arkadelphia (Clark County). Benson was a 1993 inductee into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and was inducted into both the Ouachita Sports Hall of Fame and the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Hall of Fame. Buddy Benson was born on November 9, 1933, in Wright City, Oklahoma, to Jesse Benson and Louise Pate Benson. He was one of the nation’s most actively recruited football players after he graduated from high school at De Queen (Sevier County). …

Bergey, William Earl (Bill)

Bill Bergey, who was a top-rated football player at Arkansas State University (ASU), is considered by many to be the most outstanding player ever produced by the school since the first team was fielded in 1911. In 1976, fans voted him the top player in Arkansas State history. He established himself as one of the premier defensive players, both during his college days and during his twelve-year career with two National Football League (NFL) teams: the Cincinnati Bengals and Philadelphia Eagles. William Earl Bergey was born on February 9, 1945, in South Dayton, New York. He was one of forty-seven students to graduate from western New York’s Pine Valley Central School in 1964. He participated in both basketball and football …

Broyles, Frank

aka: John Franklin Broyles
After beginning his administrative career as an assistant coach at Baylor University in 1947, John Franklin (Frank) Broyles became one of the most familiar and powerful figures in all of college sports. In his years at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), he built a diverse and excellent athletics program, plus a system of world-class athletic facilities in addition to establishing a winning tradition that includes the most football victories as head coach in Razorbacks history: 144 wins, far ahead of the runner-up coach, Lou Holtz, whose teams won sixty. Frank Broyles was born on December 26, 1924, in Decatur, Georgia, to O. T. Broyles and Louise Solms Broyles. Broyles became a star quarterback at Georgia Tech, where he …

Bryant, “Bear”

aka: Paul William Bryant
Paul William “Bear” Bryant is one of America’s all-time most successful college football coaches. At the time of his death, he had won more games than any other coach, including the legendary Amos Alonzo Staggs and Pop Warner. Arkansas-born Bryant remains an icon not only for athletic accomplishments but for personal strength, determination, and the will to win. Paul William Bryant was born on September 11, 1913, near Kingsland (Cleveland County) in south central Arkansas, to William Monroe Bryant, a farmer, and Dora Ida Kilgore Bryant, a homemaker. Bryant was the eighth surviving child (three died at birth) of a total of nine. He had four brothers and four sisters and was the youngest boy, with one sister born four …

Campbell, Leon “Muscles”

Lonnie Leon Campbell was one of Arkansas’s first post–World War II sports legends. In addition to being a star Razorback football player during the team’s formative years at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), Campbell played for three professional football teams: the Baltimore Colts, Chicago Bears, and Pittsburgh Steelers. Campbell reportedly earned his nickname, “Muscles,” after bending a railroad spike with his hands. In 1946, he also played in the Razorbacks’ first Cotton Bowl game, against the Louisiana State University Tigers. Campbell was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1977. In 1996, he was one of the first inductees into the Bauxite Hall of Fame, now on display in the Bauxite Historical Museum in …

Carpenter, Lewis Glen (Lew)

Lewis Glen (Lew) Carpenter had a long career in football, playing in high school, college, and in the National Football League (NFL). He played for the Arkansas Razorbacks from 1949 to 1952, followed by three NFL league championship teams. After ten years as a professional player, he had long career as an NFL coach. Lew Carpenter was born on January 12, 1932, to Verba Glen Carpenter and Edna Earl Pullam Carpenter in Hayti, Missouri. He and his younger brother, Preston Carpenter, grew up in West Memphis (Crittenden County), where he attended high school and played football. In 1951, he married Beverly Ann Holt from nearby Earle (Crittenden County). The couple had four daughters: Cheryl, Cathy, Lisa, and Rebecca. Accepting a …

Carpenter, Preston

Preston Carpenter played football in high school, in college, and in the National Football League (NFL). He played for the Arkansas Razorbacks in the 1952–1955 seasons and went on to play for several teams in a twelve-year professional career. His older brother, Lewis Carpenter, preceded him as a Razorback, and they once played for the same professional team. Verba Preston Carpenter was born in Hayti, Missouri, on January 24, 1934, to Verba Glen Carpenter and Edna Earl Pullam Carpenter. He spent most of his early years in West Memphis (Crittenden County) but graduated from high school in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where he was an all-state high school football player. A gifted athlete, Carpenter also played baseball in high school years, when …

Charity Games of Football (1931)

By 1931, the Great Depression had produced hardship and suffering in all areas of Arkansas. Unemployment, grinding poverty, and the devastating Drought of 1930–1931 had produced myriad challenges for the state and its residents. Still, Arkansans loved their sports, in particular football. Harvey C. Couch, founder of Arkansas Power and Light (AP&L) and member of the Arkansas Advisory Committee of the President’s Organization on Unemployment Relief, saw an opportunity to raise funds with charity football games. On November 9, 1931, Couch met with representatives from six Arkansas colleges at the Marion Hotel in Little Rock (Pulaski County). The meeting produced a plan that called for a series of college football games to be played during the first week of December …

Coleman, Walter Carpenter (Walt), III

Walt Coleman is a longtime football official who began serving as a National Football League (NFL) referee in 1995. While the 2018 season marked his thirtieth as an NFL official, making him only the seventh NFL official to achieve that milestone, he is best known for his call in the 2002 American Football Conference (AFC) game between the New England Patriots and the Oakland Raiders in which he invoked the “Tuck Rule” resulting in an apparent fumble by New England quarterback Tom Brady being ruled an incomplete pass and keeping the Patriots on the road to an eventual Super Bowl victory. Walter Carpenter (Walt) Coleman III was born on January 16, 1952, to W. C. Coleman Jr. and Robbye Cooper …

Crockett, Robert Paul (Bobby)

Bobby Crockett was a star wide receiver on the 1964 and 1965 University of Arkansas (UA) football teams, which rank among the school’s all-time great squads. As the team’s leading receiver, he earned All-American honors in 1965 before he embarked on a short-lived professional career with the Buffalo Bills. Robert Paul (Bobby) Crockett was born on April 3, 1943, in Briggsville (Yell County) to Robert Roy Crockett and Frances Annette Crockett. He attended Dermott High School, graduating in 1962. The 6’3″, 200-pound wide receiver then went on to UA in Fayetteville (Washington County), where he played a critical role in the best two-season run in the university’s history. At UA, Crockett was a three-year letter winner on the 1963, 1964, …

Davis, William Delford (Willie)

Willie Davis was a millionaire business executive, civic leader, and former football standout who grew up in Miller County. Davis achieved athletic success in football at the high school, college, and professional levels. After retiring from a National Football League (NFL) career of twelve seasons (1958–1969), he moved into the business world, where he attained equal success. Davis was a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. William Delford (Willie) Davis was born on July 24, 1934, in Lisbon, Louisiana, to David and Nodie Davis. After his parents separated when he was eight, his mother moved the family to Texarkana (Miller County). His mother supported the family by working as a cook at the Texarkana Country Club. Willie Davis …

Ellender, Bennie

Former Tulane University quarterback Bennie Ellender served as head football coach for Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County) from 1963 through 1970, amassing one of the most successful winning records in the school’s history. Bennie Ellender Jr. was born on March 2, 1925, in Sulphur, Louisiana, to Bennie Ellender Sr. and Alice Gray Ellender. He attended Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was quarterback, running back, and safety for the football team in 1943–44. He served in the U.S. Navy during World War II, returning to college at Tulane, where he again played on the football team in 1946 and 1947. In 1949, he married Bette Howard; they had no children. Ellender began his career at …

Greenwood, L. C.

L. C. Greenwood was professional football player who starred as a defensive lineman at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) and played thirteen years in the National Football League (NFL), leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowls in the 1970s. Born on August 8, 1946, in Canton, Mississippi, L. C. Henderson Greenwood was one of nine children. He started playing football at Rogers High School in Canton in order to avoid after-school chores.After graduating from high school in 1966, Greenwood received both academic and athletic scholarship offers. He turned down an offer to study pharmacy at Clarke College in Atlanta, Georgia, for the opportunity to play football in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) at Agricultural, Mechanical, and Normal …

Hampton, Dan

A defensive star for the Arkansas Razorbacks football team and for the Chicago Bears of the National Football League (NFL), Daniel Oliver Hampton earned the nickname “Danimal” for his intense style of play. Earning All-American honors in college and Pro-Bowl recognition during his professional career, Hampton is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the University of Arkansas Sports Hall of Honor, and the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Dan Hampton was born on September 19, 1957, in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, the son of Robert and Joan Hampton; he has an older brother and an older sister. In 1962, the family moved to a farm near Cabot (Lonoke County). Hampton’s father was an IBM customer engineer who chose …

Harrell, Calvin F., Jr.

Calvin Harrell is ranked among the best football players in Arkansas State University (ASU) history. He played under renowned head coach Bennie Ellender at ASU, playing in three Pecan Bowls and on the undefeated national small college championship team in 1970. He is a member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame. Calvin F. Harrell Jr. was born on September 7, 1949, to Calvin F. Harrell and Miriam Virginia Harrell. His father was a sheet metal worker. He had three sisters and two brothers. After graduation from Trezevant High School in Memphis, Tennessee, as a star football player, he was recruited by ASU in Jonesboro (Craighead County) to play on the Indians (later renamed Red Wolves) football team. He was …

Harris, Clifford Allen (Cliff)

Nicknamed “Captain Crash,” Clifford Allen Harris played as a free safety for the Dallas Cowboys. He has been inducted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) Hall of Fame (1978), the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame (1985), the Ouachita Athletics Hall of Fame (2003), and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2020). He is also a member of the National Football League 1970s All-Decade Team and the Cowboys Silver Season All-Time Team. Cliff Harris, one of three children (and the older of the two sons) of O. J. “Buddy” Harris and Margaret Harris, was born on November 12, 1948, in Fayetteville (Washington County). He began playing football in the ninth grade at Southwest Junior High School in Hot Springs …

Howell, James (Jim) Lee

James (Jim) Lee Howell was a professional football player and coach. As head coach of the New York Giants in the National Football League (NFL) from 1954 to 1960, he led the team to appearances in three NFL championship games and won the NFL title in 1956. He retired with a career record of 55–29–4. His career winning percentage is the best in Giants history for head coaches with fifty or more games and is among the best in NFL history. According to All-Pro defensive tackle Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier, Howell was “one of the greatest coaches to ever coach in the NFL.” Jim Lee Howell was born in Lonoke (Lonoke County) on September 27, 1914, the third of four siblings. His …

Hutson, Donald (Don)

Donald Montgomery (Don) Hutson, nicknamed the “Alabama Antelope,” revolutionized football’s passing game and set the standard for the position that would become known as the wide receiver. He is credited with creating many of the modern pass routes still used in the National Football League (NFL). Don Hutson was born on January 31, 1913, in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), one of three sons of Roy B. Hutson and Mabel Clark Hutson. His father worked as a conductor on the Cotton Belt Railroad, and his mother was a homemaker. Hutson achieved the rank of Eagle Scout in the Boy Scouts, played baseball and football, and ran track at Pine Bluff High School. After graduating from high school in 1931, Hutson entered …

Jackson, Keith Jerome

Keith Jerome Jackson is a former college and professional football player and current radio broadcast color analyst for University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) football. Jackson began working with the Arkansas Razorback Sports Network in 2000. Jackson is the founder of P.A.R.K (Positive Atmosphere Reaches Kids), a nonprofit after-school recreational and educational program for students. Keith Jackson was born on April 19, 1965, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and grew up in a single-parent home with his mother, Gladys Jackson. He went on to become a successful high school athlete, earning letters in football, basketball, and track at Little Rock Parkview High School. A highly recruited football player, Jackson chose to play for head coach Barry Switzer at …

Jackson, Travis Calvin

Travis Calvin Jackson was one of six native Arkansans elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He played for the New York Giants and was considered the best National League shortstop in the 1920s. Noted for his defense (which earned him the nickname “Stonewall”), he was also considered a clutch hitter. Travis Jackson was born on November 2, 1903, in Waldo (Columbia County) to William Calvin Jackson, a storekeeper, and Etta Farrar Jackson. As a teenager, Jackson played for a team at Ouachita Baptist College (now Ouachita Baptist University) and for a semipro team in eastern Arkansas, where Little Rock Travelers manager Kid Elberfeld scouted him late in the 1921 season. Baseball was beginning to be played on Sundays …

Johnson, Billy Farrel (Bill)

Billy Farrel Johnson of Conway (Faulkner County) is a well-known banker, broadcaster, and civic leader in Faulkner County. He has served as president of three financial institutions, broadcast athletic events on the radio since 1961, served as a justice of the peace, and sat on numerous local and state boards. Johnson is also a development associate for the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) athletic department and raises money for the Purple Circle Club, the primary source of outside funding for UCA athletics. Bill F. Johnson was born on May 15, 1939, in Conway, one of two children of Hulon Johnson and Norma Warbritton Johnson. Johnson attended Conway public schools from elementary through high school and graduated in 1957. He then …

Johnson, James William (Jimmy)

James William (Jimmy) Johnson was a defensive end for the University of Arkansas (UA) Razorback football team and served as the head coach for Oklahoma State University and the University of Miami before going on to become head coach for the Dallas Cowboys and Miami Dolphins. Jimmy Johnson was born on July 16, 1943, in Port Arthur, Texas. He graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School, now known as Memorial High School, in 1961. A defensive end on the high school football team, Johnson continued in that position at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville (Washington County). An All-Southwest Conference player, he belonged to the 1964 team recognized by the Football Writers Association as the national champion. After graduating from UA …

Kennedy, Cortez

Mississippi County native Cortez Kennedy was considered one of the best defensive tackles to have played in the National Football League (NFL). After an eleven-year career with the Seattle Seahawks, he retired in 2000. In 2012, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and he was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2015. Cortez Kennedy was born on August 23, 1968, in Osceola (Mississippi County). He spent his first eighteen years in the small town of Wilson (Mississippi County), where he was raised by his mother, Ruby, and stepfather, Joe Harris. With few activities available in the rural setting, Kennedy turned to football, becoming a star defensive player at Rivercrest High School. His promising …

Lacewell, Larry Wayne

Larry Wayne Lacewell, the former football coach and athletic director at Arkansas State University (ASU) in Jonesboro (Craighead County), took his teams to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I-AA playoffs for four straight years, to two Southland Conference championships, and to the 1986 Division I-AA National Championship game. In 1992, he began work as a scout for the Dallas Cowboys professional National Football League (NFL) team. Lacewell is the only coach in the nation to have led college teams to back-to-back championships and been a part of back-to-back NFL Super Bowl wins. Larry Lacewell was born on February 12, 1937, in Fordyce (Dallas County) to Arvel and Eloise Lacewell. He was the second of four children. He attended …

Malham, Michael James (Mike)

Mike Malham was an all-star football player at Arkansas State University (ASU) in the 1970s. After a short career in professional football, he became a high school football coach. By the time of his retirement in 2019, he was the second-winningest coach in Arkansas high school football history. Michael James Malham was born to Michael Joseph Malham and Betty Ruth Atcley Malham on March 2, 1953, in Little Rock (Pulaski County). He has two sisters. Both of his parents were educators, with his father also pursuing a career as a coach. Malham graduated from Little Rock’s McClellan High School in 1971. Coached by his father, he played linebacker, receiver, and occasionally quarterback on his high school football team. Malham was …

Meador, Eddie Doyle

Eddie Doyle Meador was a star defensive back for the Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League (NFL) throughout the 1960s. A graduate of Arkansas Tech University in Russellville (Pope County), Meador was the recipient of numerous honors and recognitions over the course of a twelve-year career in the NFL. Eddie Doyle Meador was born on August 10, 1937, in Dallas, Texas, to Euell Meador, who was a mechanic, and Easter Meador. The family moved to Arkansas before his junior year, but a pre-season injury prevented him from playing for the school team that year. However, in 1954, as a senior, in his sole high school season, he led Russellville High School to the Region 3AA championship. A superb …