Pro Football Hall of Fame Presents Countdown to Canton on Sirius NFL Radio. Listen each Friday morning from now through Enshrinement Day on August 8. Hosts Bob Papa and Randy Cross welcome a different Hall of Fame legend each Friday at 10 Eastern to talk some football. Don’t miss as these football greats share stories from their careers, to what it was like on their induction day, and a personal perspective on the Hall’s newest class – Bob Hayes, Randall McDaniel, Bruce Smith, Derrick Thomas, Ralph Wilson, Jr. and Rod Woodson.
Stop by Profootballhof.com each week leading up to Bob and Randy’s interview. We’ll take a look back at that week’s featured Hall of Famer and recount his enshrinement day. The Hall’s research staff will also dig into the archives and hone in on events that helped shape the careers of these Hall of Fame legends.
This week’s guest: MEL RENFRO, Class of 1996
Mel Renfro grew up in the inner city of Portland, Oregon. He had caring parents who instilled a strong religious faith in him as a youngster.
But, it was a teacher in grade school who pointed him on the path to becoming a professional athlete. He reflected on that fact during his enshrinement speech in July 1996.
“I remember my fifth grade school teacher, Mrs. Honeywell. She pulled me aside when I was ten years old and she said, ‘I see something special in you, Melvin. One day you’re going to be someone.’ I didn’t know what she meant,” he shared. “Oh, I knew I could run a little faster than some of the other kids but she saw in me a vision. A vision of a professional athlete. She encouraged me to stay in the right path…I took her words to heart and stuck with athletics.”
The Dallas Cowboys were formed in 1960. By the middle of that decade the foundation was being built for the great success that soon followed.
|Renfro intercepted 52 passes in his career.
The Cowboys obviously were looking for talented and skillful college players to help bolster the young lineup. In 1964, the club targeted speed. During that year’s draft, the Cowboys selected two track stars – University of Oregon’s Mel Renfro in the second round and Class of 2009 enshrinee Bob Hayes as a future pick in the seventh round.
While Dallas had to wait a year for Hayes to join the club, Renfro made an immediate impact as a rookie. In fact, the speedster racked up more than 1,500 yards during his first season, not one yard of which came on offense! He led the team in kickoff returns, punt returns, and interceptions. He also led the entire NFL in kickoff and punt returns. For his efforts, he was named to the first of 10 straight Pro Bowls.
Hayes joined the Cowboys one season later and head coach Tom Landry had a return tandem never before seen on the football field. Hayes was put on returns as the main blocker for Renfro. The move was brilliant as Hayes utilized his speed to cut down the first blocker and opened the way for Renfro. One of the nation’s top track stars while at Oregon, Mel marveled at the speed Hayes brought to the team.
“Me running against Bob would be like a linebacker running against me,” Mel once stated in an interview.
More from Profootballhof.com
Mel Renfro’s HOF Bio
Team Histories – Cowboys
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