The Haggar Gold Jacket Report is a weekly update on recent news surrounding the very select group of men who’ve earned a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A few years ago, Melissa Pihos, the daughter of Pro Football Hall of Famer PETE PIHOS, visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s archives to research her father’s playing days with the Philadelphia Eagles. At the time, Pete was struggling with dementia in a North Carolina nursing home and his daughter was looking for a way to honor his incredible life.
"I wanted to find a way to keep his memories alive - because they were really deteriorating," Melissa told Will Bunch of Philly.com by phone from Winston-Salem, N.C., near UNC-Greensboro where she teaches dance.
Melissa’s research at the Hall was only a small part of a much larger project that included meeting and interviewing former teammates and friends of her father, who passed away on Aug. 16, 2011, all across the country. One such interview, with Chicago Bears Hall of Fame tight end MIKE DITKA, surprised Melissa after “Iron Mike” told her that her dad "was my hero."
The result of all the countless hours Melissa spent researching is an extraordinary, multimedia tribute to a pro football legend of a bygone era. It combines Melissa's talents as a choreographer and dancer with her passion for film. The documentary film/dance production, called "PIHOS: A Moving Biography," is touring several cities this summer and will debut at the Mandell Theater at Drexel University on June 19. All ticket sales will benefit the Alzheimer's Association, which is sponsoring the production.
Melissa ultimate goal is for "PIHOS: A Moving Biography" to progress into a full-length documentary film titled "Pihos: A Life in Five Movements." Her hope is that even non-football fans can relate to the projects and to eradicating Alzheimer's disease.
"To see what it could do to someone like him, one of the strongest people, who'd been in the war and then as a star on the football field," she said, "we need to find a cure."
Speaking of documentaries, coming to your television this December is a documentary on the life and times of EARL CAMPBELL. The story will be told by former HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg, in association with NFL Films and NBC Sports Group, and is expected to air on NBC Sports Network.
Nicknamed the “Tyler Rose,” the film will follow the Hall of Fame fullback from his state championship season at John Tyler High School through his Heisman Trophy-winning career at the University of Texas and his Pro Football Hall of Fame career with the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints. It will also focus upon Earl’s post-career health and his recent rehab in the wake of knee replacement surgery.
“A lot of the most poignant stories surrounding Earl Campbell took place after he retired,” Greenburg said. “He’s done vigorous rehab to climb out of that chair and walk again, and we will be incorporating a lot of those into a look back at his storied career. We’re very excited about the project.”
Earl’s son, Christian is particularly excited for his father’s story to be told by Greenburg.
“This is overdue, and Ross is the man for the job,” Christian Campbell said. “I don’t think (Earl Campbell) is aware of how much people idolize him and how much people love him.”
Christian is also eager for people to see his father’s association with Bennie Wylie, the strength and conditioning coach at Texas.
“Bennie has helped my dad a lot. He’s getting things out of my dad that very few people have been able to do,” Christian commented. “I hope people will see from the film that Earl Campbell went through a rough time but has worked like hell to get back on track. He’s getting back to where he wants to be and where he should have been, and this film will provide a great platform for people to see that.”
Last Friday, June 8, Pro Football Hall of Famer JOHN STALLWORTH held his 10th Annual John Stallworth Celebrity Golf Tournament. All proceeds from the event fund a scholarship assistance program through the John Stallworth Foundation of more than 100 students at his alma mater, Alabama A&M.
"One of the things that makes me feel real good about what we're doing is that everybody had a good time. Everybody had a good feeling about playing golf and having bonded."
"But," he continued, "they also leave here with a good feeling about what we're doing, the reason we're here. That signals to me success. If we can continue to do that, we can keep doing this thing another 10 years. I can't say enough about the Huntsville community, the sponsors, the people wanting to come play."
The recipients of one of the scholarships from several years ago, Cataria Davis, was on hand at the Thursday night pairing party reception to tell her story. Davis, the oldest of three sisters raised in a single-family home in York, Ala., earned her undergraduate degree at Alabama A&M. She then earned a master's at Arkansas and is now working on a second master's in public health at Morgan State in Baltimore.
She's currently a counselor for young patients at a mental health institute. Eventually, she wants to become involved in health care administration for the United States Navy.
"I just talked about the foundation, how it helped me. I wanted to thank all people who were a part of the John Stallworth Foundation for giving me opportunities," Davis said. "At the end, I said I wanted to thank Mr. Stallworth for being a father figure. He's been very important to me."
"It wasn't just a scholarship," Davis continued. "It's a family oriented environment. They didn't just give you the money. They had people to support you throughout the undergrad education. They were like a support system. … Anyone who gets a scholarship and doesn't take advantage of knowing the Stallworths are missing out on a lot."
Links Related to this story:
HOF Bios: Earl Campbell | Mike Ditka | Pete Pihos | John Stallworth
More: Learn more about PIHOS: A Moving Biography | Sit down with John Stallworth
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