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
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
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."