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The 50 Greatest Sports Figures From Mississippi


There's a difference between loyalty to the home team--athletes
imported to play for our local colleges and pro franchises--and
the deep emotional bond we share with hometown heroes, the local
legends we knew back when. They are the boys and girls from next
door, or the next town. We watched them grow up, watched them
play when it was still play. Unfortunately, these luminaries are
almost inevitably dispersed because of sport's mercenary nature,
lured away by scholarships or contracts. Well, we're bringing
'em all back home for the millennium--not necessarily to where
they were born, but to where they first showed flashes of the
greatness to come. Thus, Broadway Joe is in Pennsylvania, not
Alabama or New York; and the Mailman is in Louisiana, not Utah.
The result: the top 50 from your state and, on the following
pages, a list of those from all 50 states. In short, the
ultimate home teams.

Walter Payton
No one was sweeter: holds NFL record for career rushing yards
(16,726); also one of the game's best blocking backs.

Jerry Rice
In 1984 set NCAA single-season record for TD catches (28);
only NFL player with 1,000 receptions, 15,000 receiving yards,
150 TD catches.

Lance Alworth
Had more than 1,000 yards receiving every year from 1963 to
'69; led AFL in TD receptions three times.

Frank (Bruiser) Kinard
Tackle was first football All-America at Ole Miss, in 1936;
first player to earn all-league honors in both AAFC and NFL.

Archie Manning
Finished in top four in Heisman voting in 1969, '70 at Ole Miss;
passed for 23,911 yards in NFL.

Margaret Wade
Coached Delta State women's hoops team to 51-game winning streak
and AIAW titles in 1975, '76, '77; NCAA women's player of the
year trophy bears her name.

Brett Favre
Leader of Packers' resurgence is only player to win three
consecutive NFL MVP awards.

Jake Gibbs
Led Ole Miss to 1960 national crown by running for both TDs in
14-6 Sugar Bowl win over Rice; played parts of 10 seasons in
majors with Yankees.

Lusia Harris-Stewart
Three-time All-America at Delta State; top player on 1975, '76,
'77 AIAW basketball champs.

Charlie Conerly
Finished fourth in 1947 Heisman voting with Ole Miss; threw for
19,488 yards, 173 TDs in 14 seasons with Giants.

Calvin Smith
Two-time world track champion in 200 meters also held world mark
in 100; won Olympic gold in 4x100 relay in 1984.

Ruthie Bolton-Holifield
USA Basketball Women's Player of the Year in 1991; All-WNBA in
'97 with Monarchs.

Willie Brown
Had 54 career interceptions for Raiders; locked up Super Bowl XI
win with 75-yard interception return for TD.

Willye White
Five-time Olympian got silver medal in long jump at 1956 Games
and another in 4x100-meter relay in '64.

Lem Barney
Intercepted 27 passes in career at Jackson State; had 10 as
Lions rookie in 1967; seven-time All-Pro.

Jennifer Gillom
Second-leading scorer in Ole Miss women's basketball history;
averaged 20.8 points for WNBA's Mercury in 1998.

L.C. Greenwood
Had three sacks for Steelers in Super Bowl X; appeared in six
Pro Bowls.

Johnny Vaught
Took over 2-7 Ole Miss football team in 1947 and went 9-2 in
first year; won six SEC crowns, national titles in '60 and '62.

Ralph Boston
Broke Jesse Owens's 25-year-old long jump record in August 1960;
won Olympic gold two weeks later; took silver at '64 Games,
bronze in '68.

Ron Polk
Winningest baseball coach in SEC history took Mississippi State
to five College World Series from 1976 to '97.

Wilbert Montgomery
Scored 37 TDs as freshman at Abilene Christian in 1973; rushed
for more than 1,200 yards three times with Eagles.

Purvis Short
Averaged 23.7 points at Jackson State from 1974 to '78; scored
59 for Warriors against Nets in '84.

Jackie Slater
Set NFL record for linemen by playing in 259 games with Rams
from 1976 to '95.

Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf
The former Chris Jackson averaged 30.2 points as LSU freshman in
1988-89; 15.2 ppg in eight NBA seasons.

Harold Jackson
Jackson State product hauled in NFL-best 62 passes for 1,048
yards in 1972 for Eagles; also led league in receiving yards
(1,116) in '69.

Bill Foster
Won 26 straight games for Chicago American Giants of Negro
leagues in 1926.

Erick Dampier
Three-time All-SEC center led Mississippi State to its only
Final Four, in 1996, averaging 14.5 points and 9.3 rebounds; now
with Warriors.

Mary Mills
Won eight straight state amateur golf championships; 1962 LPGA
Rookie of the Year; won U.S. Open in '63.

Billy Shaw
Bills pulling guard in 1960s; named to alltime AFL team.

Ray Perkins
All-America fullback at Petal High was Alabama receiving star;
succeeded Bear Bryant as Tide coach in 1983; also coached Giants
and Buccaneers.

Babe McCarthy
Against orders of governor, who objected to playing against
blacks, Mississippi State basketball coach sneaked team out of
state so it could play in 1963 NCAA tournament; won four SEC
titles in 10 years.

Larry Myricks
Won long jump at 1980 Olympic trials, but boycott of Games wiped
out gold medal chances; got bronze at '88 Games.

Dave (Boo) Ferriss
Was 21-10 as rookie in 1945, for Red Sox; won 25 in '46.

Steve McNair
Only NCAA player with 16,000 yards of total offense; 3,228
passing yards for Oilers in 1998.

Van Chancellor
Made 14 trips to NCAAs in 19 years as Ole Miss women's basketball
coach; won three WNBA titles with Comets.

Clarence Weatherspoon
Alltime leading rebounder at Southern Miss; led Golden Eagles to
20-win seasons in 1989-90 and '90-91.

Litterial Green
All-America averaged 39.7 points as senior at Moss Point High in
1989; 17.7 ppg, 4.0 apg in career at Georgia.

Hugh Green
State's top lineman at North High in 1976; won Lombardi and
Maxwell awards at Pitt in '80; played in two Pro Bowls.

Bert Jenkins
Coach won state-record 866 games and seven basketball titles at
Gulfport High.

Antonio McDyess
Averaged 25.8 points, 14.7 rebounds at Quitman High in 1991-92
and '92-93; one of six players in NBA with 20 ppg and 10 rpg in
'98-99, with Nuggets.

Jim Gallagher Jr.
Won 1993 PGA Tour Championship; has four other wins on Tour.

Jack Gregory
Three-sport star at Okolona High had 21 sacks as defensive end
for the Giants in 1972.

Marcus Dupree
Rushed for 5,283 yards and 87 TDs at Philadelphia High from 1979
to '81; spent a year at Oklahoma, two seasons in USFL and two
with Rams.

Harol Lofton
Won 15 letters at Brookhaven High and was All-America in
football in 1950; All-SEC as a running back for Ole Miss in '53.

Sammy Winder
Led nation in scoring for Southern Miss in 1980 (20 TDs); led
Broncos in rushing every year from 1983 to '87.

Slew Hester
As president of USTA he oversaw U.S. Open's move from Forest
Hills to Flushing Meadow in 1978.

Claude Passeau
Cubs pitcher named to five All-Star teams in 1940s; 162 wins.

Eric Moulds
All-SEC wideout at Mississippi State; set Bills receiving record
in 1998 (1,368 yards).

Bobby Collins
Mississippi State quarterback from 1951 to '54; coached Southern
Miss to first two Division I-A bowls, in '80 and '81.

Dot Easterwood Murphy
Averaged 33 points at Starkville High; played basketball for
U.S. in 1973 World University Games; assistant to husband, Gene,
football coach at Hinds C.C.