The Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company
honored pro football legend and former great as a Hometown Hall of Famer™ yesterday during a special plaque ceremony at Central Career and Technical High School in his hometown of Erie, Pa. After event emcee and Superintendent Jay Badams greeted the crowd of more than 1,000 students, friends, family and community members including several school board officials and Erie Mayor Joseph Sinnot, a video highlighting Biletnikoff’s legendary career led to a standing ovation and loud cheers from the audience as they welcomed Biletnikoff back to his alma mater.
Presenting Biletnikoff with his plaque was lifelong friend Rich Valahovic who shared Biletnikoff’s life story emphasizing how his childhood decisions in Erie played a major role in his success in life on and off the field.
“Through the generosity of Allstate Insurance Company and the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Fred gets to give back to the school and his hometown of Erie, Pa., something in return,” said Valahovic.
After the plaque was unveiled, Biletnikoff took the stage and addressed the crowd with an overwhelming amount of appreciation and enthusiasm. He delivered a very engaging speech making the school’s football team verbally promise to complete a winning season this year.
He then took two questions from the students in the audience. After being asked by the first student if he was happy the Raiders beat the Pittsburgh Steelers this week, Biletnikoff responded with an enthusiastic, “Heck yes!”
That answer revoked some jeers from the Steelers fans and applause from others. The second student asked how he was able to learn to catch the ball with one hand so well.
Biletnikoff responded with a candid and honest answer saying, “Well that was easy, I used Stick’em!”
In closing the ceremony, the high school took a brief moment to make a $1,000 donation to the foundation the Biletnikoff family founded in memory of their late-daughter called The Tracey Biletnikoff Foundation. The foundation provides support to young women dealing with substance abuse and domestic abuse issues.
In addition to the plaque, a commemorative Hometown Hall of Famer™ road sign will be on display in Erie, Pa.
“What better way to show our pride for where Allstaters and our customers live and work than to have a program like this that honors the legacy of a professional football legend like and brings his family to where it all began here in his hometown at Central Career and Tech High School,” said Matt Barczyk, local Allstate agent.
George Veras, president and CEO of Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises, gave the audience a larger glimpse at what this national program brings to Erie, Pa., saying, “This plaque commemorates your support that you gave Fred in his journey to the Hall of Fame. You gave him the base of excellence for him to become a Hall of Famer.”
Biletnikoff was a standout student-athlete while at Central Career and Technical High School, excelling in not only football, but also earning letters and All-City honors in baseball and basketball and was a champion high jumper in track and field.
Biletnikoff went on to star as a wide receiver for Florida State University and became the school’s first consensus All-American finishing his college career with 87 receptions for 1,463 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Drafted in 1965 in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Detroit Lions and the second round of the AFL Draft by the , Biletnikoff chose Oakland for his new pro home. He was a durable, dependable performer who not only dominated the Raiders’ record book for pass receiving but also owned several significant NFL marks. His 70 receptions for 1,167 yards and 10 touchdowns in 10 postseason games were NFL playoff records. He totaled 589 receptions for 8,974 yards and 76 touchdowns during his 14-year NFL career with the Raiders. Biletnikoff played in two Super Bowls, eight AFL/AFC championships, two AFL All-Star games and four AFC-NFC Pro Bowls. He earned MVP honors during Super Bowl XI.
Biletnikoff was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1988.
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