NEW YORK - There is the so-called 1 percent. But then there's the 1/10,000th percent.
John Wooten, the University of Colorado All-American guard in the late 1950s, joined a select group of players here Tuesday night as he was officially inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Since 1869 when the first college game was played, an estimated 4.92 million people have played the sport, but just 1,111 are members of the Hall, including the 14 players and three coaches inducted in this year's class, the 55th in the Hall's history. That makes Wooten one in just 10,000 to earn the distinction.
Wooten, one of CU's first two African-Americans to play varsity football (along with teammate Frank Clarke), lettered three years at offensive guard from 1956-58; he went on to become an all-pro player with the Cleveland Browns, where he blocked for the great Jim Brown. After football, he enjoyed a long administrative career in the professional ranks with the Dallas Cowboys, Philadelphia Eagles and Baltimore Ravens, as well as with National Football League office.
At a private reception honoring Wooten Monday night, co-sponsored by CU and the school's New York Alumni Association, several of the NFL's top brass dropped by, including Ray Anderson (executive vice president), Ron Hill (VP/operations) and David Coleman (director of officials).
"This is indeed a great honor," Wooten said prior to his induction at a press conference for all those set for induction; at the actual induction dinner, former Oklahoma State and Miami head coach Jimmy Johnson, one of three coaches voted into the Hall, read remarks for the entire class.
"As I look around the room, being an old scout for years with the Cowboys, Eagles and Ravens, I remember scouting many of these great players. And now to be honored with these men just brings back many of the great memories in my lifetime, including all those I had at the University of Colorado."
It was also a special evening for the state of Colorado, as Air Force's Scott Thomas and Colorado State's Greg Myers were also inducted.
Other members of the 2012 class included Charles Alexander (Louisiana State), Otis Armstrong (Purdue), Steve Bartkowski (California), Hal Bedsole (Southern California), Dave Casper (Notre Dame), Ty Detmer (BYU), Tommy Kramer (Rice), Art Monk (Syracuse), Jonathan Ogden (UCLA), Gabe Rivera (Texas Tech), Mark Simoneau (Kansas State) and coaches Phillip Fulmer (Tennessee) and R.C. Slocum (Texas A&M).
Also on Tuesday, the National Football Foundation honored five high school scholar-athletes at its annual chapter luncheon. Colorado freshman Jesse Hiss was one of the select five to be recognized for his academic and athletic accomplishments in high school.
"It's a really humbling experience, with over a million high school football players every year, and to be one of the top five picked is really a great honor," Hiss said. He was one of 13 players honored by the NFF's Sunflower Chapter. "This is a lot bigger than I imagined; I wasn't sure what to expect. To be introduced by Dick Vermeil, Archie Manning was here, and all these Hall of Fame coaches, this really was special."
A Business (Management) major and linebacker from Bonner Springs, Kan. (Basehor-Linwood High School), Hiss was accompanied on his first-ever trip to New York City by his parents, three siblings and his girlfriend. They stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel and were treated to a performance Monday by the famous Rockettes.
"It's very fast-paced, seems densely populated with people living on top of each other," were his first impressions of the city. "But it's very cool, though."