Pro Football Hall of Fame running back was honored Friday, Oct. 12, as a Hometown Hall of Famer™ by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company
at his former high school in Centralia, Kan. The special plaque ceremony occurred in front of a capacity crowd in Centralia High School’s gymnasium that included the school’s entire student body (grades K-12) and members from the local community.
Riggins showed excitement throughout the ceremony to be back at his former high school where he had made so many great memories starring as a three-sport athlete, earning high school All-American recognition in football, all-state honors in basketball and twice winning the Class B 100-yard dash state title.
Prior to the ceremony, John spent a generous amount of his time interacting with students and signing autographs in the school library before walking past a trophy case dedicated to his personal athletic accomplishments and into the packed gymnasium.
On hand to present Riggins with his plaque, which will remain on permanent display at Centralia High School, was his brother Bill Riggins. Bill spoke highly of his brother and the determination he showed growing up and pursuing his dream. After the two brothers unveiled John’s plaque in front of a standing ovation from the audience, John took the podium and delivered a memorable speech that challenged everyone to strive for success in whatever career they choose and to always remember that giving back to the community is vital to the success of future generations. Before closing out his speech, John was quick to remind everyone that, “If you need a guy to go 4th-and-1 on a play – well, I’m still your man.”
Also speaking at the ceremony was Centralia High School Principal John Whetzal who spoke passionately about the pride the community has in Centralia High School athletics and having John as a former student-athlete. Brian Green, from Allstate Insurance Company, spoke to the audience and congratulated John on his honor.
“It’s a true privilege to be representing Allstate as we honor Pro Football Hall of Fame member today at Centralia High School,” said Green. “John worked extremely hard to be successful in his career, just like the people of Centralia do in their own professional careers and that is why John is such a great candidate for this program.”
Later in the evening John was honored by his community, prior to Centralia High School’s home football game, when the school’s football field was named “Riggins Field.”
“Centralia High School has a tremendous tradition of athletic excellence,” said George Veras, president and CEO of Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises. “It was John who helped lay the foundation for this excellence back when he was a student-athlete at Centralia High School and to have him back today to celebrate this success with his community is what this program is all about.”
After a successful high school career, John stayed in his home state to attend the University of Kansas, where he was an All-American and a Big Eight rushing champion at the running back position.
A first-round draft pick by the New York Jets in 1971, Riggins quickly became known for his tough running style and clutch performances in crucial game situations. After playing five seasons with the Jets, Riggins went on to play nine seasons with the Washington Redskins. Riggins ended his NFL career with 11,352 rushing yards and 2,090 receiving yards for a combined 116 touchdowns. Riggins was the Most Valuable Player in Super Bowl XVII after rushing for 166 yards, including a 43-yard touchdown run that clinched the victory for the Redskins.
Riggins was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1992.
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