Pro Football Hall of Famer Jackie Slater returned to his alma mater, Wingfield High School in Jackson, Miss., on Thursday, Dec. 19, for the first time since he graduated. He was the 90th Hall of Famer to be honored by Allstate Insurance and the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the “Hometown Hall of Famers ™” program. The excitement of the Jackson community to welcome home their hometown hero was evident by the large turnout of family, friends, former classmates and teammates as well as many members of the Jackson community at the ceremony.
The students of Wingfield High School brought out all the stops to give Slater a warm welcome with a special performance by the school’s choir and an enthusiastic cheer from the cheerleaders. A highlight video of Slater’s NFL career was shown before Allstate Field Sales Leader Darnell Scott took the stage. “At Allstate, we work every day to help protect what matters most to people, so they, like these Hall of Famers, can achieve their goals and realize their dreams,” Scott said.
Brock Richards of the Pro Football Hall of Fame told Wingfield High School students, “Today is about you. It’s about Jackie honoring his hometown and the roots of his great career.”
Slater received a standing ovation as he entered the school’s auditorium, greeting attendees as he walked down the aisle of chairs. Following the unveiling of the plaque, Slater took the stage to speak of his time as a student at Wingfield High School. He explained to the audience how he attended Jim Hill High before switching to Wingfield High School as a result of integration being enforced. Slater chose Wingfield High School as the recipient of the plaque because it laid the groundwork for who he would grow up to become. “I want you young people to know that you can be successful,” Slater said. “You can realize your dreams.”
After the conclusion of the ceremony, representatives from Slater’s alma mater, Jackson State University, presented him with special JSU memorabilia.
In addition to the plaque, a commemorative Jackie Slater “Hometown Hall of Famers™” road sign will be on display in Jackson.
An offensive tackle from Jackson State University, Slater was a third-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams in the 1976 NFL Draft. He went on to become the mainstay of the Rams’ offensive line for the next 20 seasons, which at the time was an NFL record for most seasons with the same team.
A powerful drive blocker known for his work ethic and leadership skills, Slater blocked for seven different 1,000-yard rushers including fellow Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson. Slater made 18 playoff game appearances, including Super Bowl XIV. His 259 regular-season games played were the most ever by an offensive lineman when he retired. Slater was a five-time first- or second-team All-Pro selection and seven-time first- or second-team All-NFC choice. He was named to seven Pro Bowls and the St. Louis Rams have retired his No. 78 jersey.
Slater was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001.
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