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University of Oklahoma greats Billy Sims and Greg Pruitt were part of the Sooner contingent that participated in the Langston golf tournament in May.
Former Langston University and Dallas Cowboy linebacker Thomas "Hollywood" Henderson talks about the school's drive to improve the athletic department.
Former NFL players Lawrence Taylor and Matthew Hatchett share a laugh at the tournament luncheon.
Langston Athletic Director Mike Garrett and Marcus Allen share some laughs after the tournament. Both men were tailbacks at the University of Southern California, Heisman Trophy winners and members of Super Bowl championship teams.
Former Kansas City Chiefs teammates Ed Podolak and Jan Stenarud share memories of their NFL careers. Podolak and Stenerud were on the KC team that won Super Bowl III.
Posing for photos are NFL greats Billy Sims, Marcus Allen, Joe Washington, Greg Pruitt and Lawrence Taylor.

Langston Golf

By Tim Farley

There’s no doubt Langston University Athletic Director Mike Garrett is a winner, and he proved it again in May thanks to a fraternity of National Football League legends who came to help.

Garrett had set a goal of raising $150,000 for the university’s teams with a high-profile golf tournament at Cherokee Hills Golf Course in Catoosa. The result was better than the 1965 Heisman Trophy winner and former Kansas City Chiefs tailback imagined when the final tally hit $170,000. It was the second year for the athletic department fundraiser, which netted $100,000 a year ago.

Although the tournament was shortened due to rainstorms, Garrett and Langston athletes were the winners May 12.
“We want to dominate NAIA in our sports and in the future possibly look at going to NCAA Division II,” Garrett said. “It was great to have all these guys here and to be able to raise this much money. This certainly helps Langston’s athletic department.”

As Garrett was crediting his former Kansas City teammates and those he played against for the tourney’s success, NFL legends like Marcus Allen, Jan Stenerud, Billy Sims and Bobby Bell paid homage to Garrett, now in his second year as Langston’s AD.

“He is one of my dearest friends and I have tremendous respect for him,” Allen said in an interview with ionOK.com. “We’re here not only for Mike but to help improve the lives of young people. It’s the right thing to do. It’s important to raise money for all schools, particularly those with historical significance.”

Langston is a land grant school and is the only historically-black college west of the Mississippi River.
Allen, the 1981 Heisman Trophy winning tailback from USC, played 15 seasons in the NFL with the Oakland Raiders and later with the Chiefs. He was named to the Pro Bowl six times, earned Most Valuable Player honors in Super Bowl XVIII and was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 2003.

Yet, Allen said his biggest accomplishment in life hasn’t occurred on the football field. He became a father for the first time four months ago.

“The Heisman, being a Super Bowl champ, national championship at USC, Rookie of the Year, they all pale in comparison to having a child. It’s game changer. That’s why it’s important for us to come here today and help young people,” he said.

Sooner connection

Although Langston is far removed from NCAA powerhouses like the University of Oklahoma, several Sooner greats such as Billy Sims, Joe Washington, Greg Pruitt, Jason White and their former coach Barry Switzer were on hand to make the fundraiser a huge success.

Sims, the 1978 Heisman Trophy winner and Detroit Lion legend, described the tourney as a worthy cause.
“To give back is awesome,” he said. “This is important.”

Sims played five seasons in the NFL before retiring. He now owns a large chain of Billy Sims Barbecue restaurants.
Before the tournament, Switzer talked about his relationship with Garrett since the former USC Trojan arrived in Oklahoma two years ago.

“He asked me to personally get involved with him and Langston. He is a man with great vision and he’s a class individual,” Switzer said. “Mike Garrett is the draw for all these people. It’s a tribute to him more than anything.”

More than anyone, Switzer understands Garrett’s push to succeed. When Switzer took over as OU’s head coach in 1973, the Sooners were less than a national powerhouse at the time. During Switzer’s tenure, the Sooners won three national championships.

“He wants everyone to know there are four universities in Oklahoma. There’s OU, OSU, Tulsa and Langston,” Switzer said. “He wants to build a program and needs the resources to do that. You need quality coaches and athletes to accomplish this. Mike understands all that.”

Former teammates respond

Jan Stenerud, one of the first soccer-style kickers in the NFL, was Garrett’s teammate when the Kansas City Chiefs defeated Minnesota in Super Bowl IV. During the first half, Stenerud kicked three field goals as the Chiefs took a 9-0 lead.

After the rain-shortened tournament May 12, Stenerud talked about his reason for participating.
“Most of us are here because Mike has earned our respect,” he said. “We wouldn’t have these lives if it weren’t for athletics, so to help Mike was a natural thing to do.”

Undrafted out of Montana State, Stenerud spent the next 19 seasons in pro football with the Chiefs, Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings.

Bobby Bell, who played outside linebacker for the Chiefs for 11 seasons, said helping former teammates and friends “is what we do.”

“Plus,” he said, “I have time to do it. I’m pleased to be able to help. As a group of Hall of Famers, we get to see each other, joke around and talk about our families.”

Like the other players in the tournament, Bell, 71, had his own accolades for Garrett.

“It was great playing with him. He was one of the fastest guys but always had something to prove because of his size. He’s a competitor and he likes to win,” Bell said.

Other NFL legends who played in the tournament were Lawrence Taylor, Curley Culp, Kenny Washington, Ed Pololak, Matthew Hatchett, and Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson. NBA Hall of Famer Otis Birdsong also participated in the tourney.

Garrett hopes to increase the number of NFL Hall of Famers for next year’s tournament with the possible additions of Joe Namath, Bart Starr and Roger Staubach.

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