Dateline: February 12, 2008

Sports Hall of Fame inducts Kenny King

Roger Estlack, Clarendon Enterprise

A hometown boy became the 143rd member of the Panhandle Sports Hall of Fame Sunday afternoon during the hall’s 50th annual presentation of awards.

Kenny King who went from a top running back for the Clarendon Bronchos to a Super Bowl record setter was inducted along with former Texas Tech Lady Raiders Coach Marsha Sharp and Olympic gold medallist Brandon Slay.

Amarillo Globe-News columnist Jon Mark Beilue served as Master of Ceremonies for the event and set the tone for inducting the three sports legends when he said that no matter what part of the Panhandle you are from, you are always part of one big family when you go on to compete at the national or global level.

As the first inductee for the day, King said Clarendon and the area have always been his home and that it was fitting that his final honor came from the Texas Panhandle.

“I started my career here, and now I end it here,” he said.

King also had words of wisdom for the dozens of high school and college athletes honored for special achievements Sunday.

“The Texas Panhandle has so much talent,” he said. “I had great opportunities in college and in the NFL, but some didn’t ever get there because they didn’t want to leave home. But I can tell you that you can always come home. I wouldn’t change anything about my life.”

King grew up in Clarendon, where he was a key member as a sophomore of the Bronchos’ 1972 state runner-up football team, then became one of the state’s top schoolboy running backs as a senior.

OU head coach Barry Switzer personally signed King in Clarendon, and King led OU in rushing as a sophomore but became more of a blocking back his last two seasons. His blocking is credited as the key to Billy Sims’ Heisman Trophy season at OU in 1978.

King was drafted by Houston in the NFL’s third round by Coach Bum Phillips but later was traded to Oakland where he played on two Super Bowl champion teams and was All-Pro.

In Super Bowl XV, King caught an 80-yard scoring pass from Jim Plunkett, which was the longest scoring pass play in Super Bowl history. That mark stood for 16 years.

King finished his playing career in Hamilton in the Canadian Football League. Today he lives and works in Ft. Worth.

The 144th member of the Hall of Fame was Marsha Sharp, who retired in 2006 as the winningest women’s basketball coach in Texas Tech history. She led the Lady Raiders for 24 seasons, and her teams compiled a record of 570-187. Under her guidance, the Tech women won the NCAA championship in 1993. She credited her success to “a lot of other people’s talent,” and the Tulia native, who always tried to recruit West Texas girls, said it was very special to be recognized from people at home.

Brandon Slay, the hall’s 145th member, began wrestling at the age of six. He was in 23 matches that first year and “won all but 22 of them.” Slay said sometimes you need those defeats in life to make you stronger, and he credited his family and coaches for their part in his success. At the age of 24 he staged a huge upset at the Sydney Olympics and now has a gold medal to show for it. Asked by some fellow Olympians if he was going to engrave his name on the back of the medal, he said no. When asked why not, he responded, “Because it’s not just mine.”

 

 

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