Legendary Dallas Cowboys
defensive back Mel Renfro returned to his alma mater on Tuesday for a special tribute as part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company’s Hometown Hall of Famer Program™. The ceremony for Renfro took place in front of a crowd of more than 300 students at Jefferson High School in Portland, Ore.
The Hometown Hall of Famer™ plaque dedication featured speakers including Jefferson High School alumnus and state champion athlete Ray Leary; Renfro’s longtime friend and alumnus Clifford Walker; Kevin Saddler, Allstate Insurance representative and Portland resident; along with Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises President/CEO George Veras. Students and other guests had an opportunity to hear very candid and heartfelt stories of Renfro’s outstanding character and his impact on the community of Portland and Jefferson High School.
“I remember my induction ceremony into the Hall of Fame in 1996 very well,” shared Renfro. “This, today, feels just like that. It’s as if I’m being inducted into the Hall of Fame again and this plaque is for you Jefferson High School.”
Walker spoke of Renfro’s unparalleled character from a young age and students were encouraged by all ceremony speakers to take the lessons learned in the halls of Jefferson throughout their lives to help them achieve Hall of Fame success in any field they choose.
“History came alive again today with Mel Renfro's presentation of the Hometown Hall of Famer™ plaque to Jefferson High School,” said Veras.
The school, also home to fellow Pro Football Hall of Fame member Arnie Weinmeister
, plans to take the plaque to other high schools in the Portland area to demonstrate their pride as having been selected to house this commemorative plaque.
“To be part of a program that brings the prestige and tradition of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to cities like Portland is an honor for Allstate, our agents and employees,” said Lisa Cochrane, Allstate’s senior vice president of marketing.
As a standout student-athlete in high school, Renfro starred in football and track and field. After high school, Renfro attended the University of Oregon where he excelled as a track star and a two-way football player as an All-American halfback and defensive back. Renfro rushed for 1,532 yards and scored 141 points during his college career for the Ducks, an achievement that earned him election to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1986.
Renfro was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the second round of the 1964 NFL Draft and began his career with the Cowboys at safety, but switched to cornerback in his fifth season. He intercepted 52 passes, returning them for 626 yards and three touchdowns during his stellar 14-season NFL career. Renfro was also a significant threat on special teams, returning 109 punts for 842 yards and one touchdown and had 85 kickoff returns for 2,246 yards and two touchdowns. Renfro played in eight NFL/NFC championship games and four Super Bowls. He earned all-conference honors seven times and was an All-NFL choice five times.
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