Former Texas A&M coach R.C. Slocum and Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach initially seemed out of place at the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony Saturday.
But, as the inaugural recipients of the Rube Foster Award, given to a coach, athlete or supporter who has made a significant impact on sports in Texas by supporting African American athletes, Slocum and Staubach were perfect fits in standing alongside the 10 inductees to the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2016.
Slocum is the winningest coach in Texas A&M history. He never had a losing season and won four conference titles.
Key to his success was being able to recruit at inner-city schools in Houston and Dallas, creating a pipeline of talent to Texas A&M.
Two tables full of former Texas A&M players were on hand to support Slocum at the Crowne Plaza on Saturday, including Greg Hill, Aaron Wallace, Leeland McElroy and Ray Mickens.
“So much of my life has been involved in players in the black community,” Slocum said. “Whatever success I had they certainly played a huge role. It’s very neat to be honored. I’ve always had a fond heart. I give credit to my parents. I was brought up to love everybody. I grew up in that background. I always cherished my relationships with the players, their parents and families. This validates some of those relationships. And to have the players come out and support me. It makes you proud.”
Not only were former players on hand to support Slocum, but so was current A&M football coach Kevin Sumlin, who was a member of the Aggies’ staff under Slocum in 2001-02.
“It’s a big deal,” Sumlin said. “When you are an icon like he is and a guy I had the privilege to work for ... you see the impact that he had not just as a football coach but in life.
“To be inducted into the Black Sports Hall of Fame says a lot about who is in and was at a time when maybe that wasn’t all right. That means more than games.”
There is no doubt Staubach made contributions by handing the ball off to the likes of Tony Dorsett and Calvin Hill and throwing countless touchdowns to Drew Pearson, Tony Hill and Bob Hayes, but he has also played a significant role after his career with his support of teammates in need and as one of the early sponsors of the Texas Black Sports Hall of Fame.
“It means a lot,” Staubach said. “I’m from Cincinnati, Ohio. Growing up, my mother understood the evils of discrimination. She didn’t raise us that way. I’m lucky. I had parents that understood. Racism was horrible back then and it still is today. I didn’t know about the Rube Foster award. But I’m sure proud of it. I know my mom would be really proud of it.”
The 2016 Hall of Fame inductees were former Grambling star and Orange native Garland Boyette, former Oakland Raiders receiver and Houston native Cliff Branch, long-time high school and college coach Charles Brown, former Prairie View tennis champ James Clemons, former Texas Southern quarterback Charles Green, former Texas women’s track coach Beverly Kearney, former Texas A&M track star Anjanette Kirkland, former pro football and wrestling icon Ernie Ladd, former Negro League baseball legend Hilton Lee Smith and Pro Football Hall of Fame cornerback and Angleton native Emmitt Thomas.
Among the attendees at the star-studded affair were former boxing champion George Forman, former Steelers star Joe Greene and former Cowboys Everson Walls and Preston Pearson.