Pro Football Hall of Fame and Minnesota Vikings legend , was honored as a “Hometown Hall of Famer™” by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company on Tuesday, March 5, at his alma mater, Atkins Academic & Technology High School, in Winston-Salem, N.C. The high school kicked off the heart-warming ceremony in the auditorium with the presentation of colors by the ROTC and the singing of the national anthem by one of the high school’s own talented singers.
Eller’s former high school football teammate, Hessie Smith, presented Eller with his special plaque and shared memories of growing up with his good friend whom everyone called “Moose.” He shed light on how involved Eller was in high school beyond football, including serving as president of his senior class and being voted “best personality.”
The enthusiasm in the auditorium was high after the audience watched a highlight video of Eller’s career and got to see firsthand the success experience by one of their hometown’s own legends.
Eller was excited to return back to his hometown, and brought numerous members of his family with him. He recognized and thanked every family member in attendance before delivering some words of wisdom to the students of Atkins Academic & Technology High School. His speech took on a theme he coined as “This is Life” and delivered three lessons he has learned along his path to success:
1. Learn to give and what to be grateful for
2. All decisions are important
3. You can’t have it all, nor do you want it all
After the ceremony concluded, Eller was presented with an Atkins Academic & Technology High School sweatshirt and t-shirt and took extra time to meet each member of the school’s football team.
“Allstate is proud to honor the great #81, , and his hometown here in Winston-Salem, N.C.,” said Allstate representative Eric Tang.
Additional speakers at the ceremony included Atkins Academic & Technology High School Principal Joe Childers, who served as the event emcee, and Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises Program Director Brock Richards.
“Today is about Carl honoring his hometown and his roots of his great career that led him to the Hall of Fame,” said Richards. “We hope this plaque will inspire each of you to be a Hall of Famer in anything that you choose to pursue.”
In addition to the plaque, a commemorative “Hometown Hall of Famers™” road sign will be on display in Winston-Salem. The school has already posted one at its campus entrance.
A consensus All-American with the University of Minnesota, Eller was a first-round draft pick of both the NFL’s Minnesota Vikings and the Buffalo Bills of the American Football League. He signed with the Vikings where he spent the next 15 years as a key member of the Minnesota defensive line nicknamed “The Purple People Eaters.”
Eller, an excellent pass rusher and defender against the run, helped lead the Vikings to win 10 NFL/NFC Central Division titles as well as the 1969 championship. The six-time Pro Bowler played in four Super Bowls and won three NFC crowns before going to the Seattle Seahawks in 1979 for his final year in the NFL. Eller was named first- or second-team All Pro every year from 1967 through 1973 and was All-NFL or All-NFC 1968 through 1973 and then All-NFC again in 1975. He won the George Halas Award in 1971 as the NFL’s leading defensive player.
Eller was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.
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