Thursday, May 10, 2012

Bama Legend Ozzie Newsome to be honored in hometown ceremony

Pro football legend Ozzie Newsome will be recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company in Leighton, Ala., on Thursday, May 17, as part of “Hometown Hall of Famers™,” a national program honoring the hometown roots of the sport’s greatest players with special ceremonies and plaque dedication events in local communities.

“’Hometown Hall of Famers™’ has been warmly embraced by communities and Hall of Famers alike,” said George Veras, Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises president and CEO. “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Allstate to bring the Pro Football Hall of Fame to communities across the country and congratulate Ozzie Newsome and Colbert County High School on bringing a piece of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to Leighton.”

A 13-year veteran of the league as tight end for the Cleveland Browns and former high school standout at Colbert County High School in Leighton, Ala., Newsome will be presented with his “Hometown Hall of Famer™” plaque during a special ceremony at 1:30 p.m. CT on Thursday, May 17, at the Colbert County High School gymnasium, where the plaque will live permanently to serve as an inspiration for the school’s students and athletes. The presentation will be made by Lee Craft, Colbert County High School alumnus, assistant principal and athletic director.

“To be part of a program that brings the prestige and tradition of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to communities like Leighton is an honor for Allstate, our agents and employees,” said Lisa Cochrane, Allstate’s senior vice president of marketing.

The ceremony will be attended by Colbert County High School students, faculty, staff, alumni and Newsome’s family members and close friends. Colbert County High School Principal Melcha Satchel will serve as the Master of Ceremonies.

In addition to the plaque, a commemorative Ozzie Newsome “Hometown Hall of Famers™” road sign will be on display in Leighton, Ala.

At Colbert County High School, Newsome was a three-sport star in football, baseball and basketball, winning high school All-America honors in football and basketball. In 1972, Newsome led the Colbert Indians football team as a wide receiver and defensive back to a 13-0 season and a 3A state title.

Newsome went on to star as a wide receiver for the University of Alabama under coach Paul “Bear” Bryant where he started in 48 consecutive games and led his team to a 42-6 record and three SEC championships. Nicknamed “The Wizard of Oz” due to his “wizardry” on the field as a wide receiver,  Newsome was a three-time All-SEC selection, the 1977 SEC “Offensive Player of the Year” and named first-team All-America as a senior and second-team All-America as a junior. Newsome finished his collegiate career with 102 catches for 2,070 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Selected by the Cleveland Browns in the first round of the 1978 NFL Draft, Newsome became the first rookie in 25 years to be named the Browns’ Offensive Player of the Year in 1978. A longtime Browns offensive captain, Newsome played in 198 consecutive games and led the Browns to three AFC championship games. Considered by many as one of the greatest tight ends of all time, his 662 receptions for 7,980 yards and 47 touchdowns stood as NFL records until 2001. Throughout his career, he was voted into three Pro Bowls and named All-Pro seven times. Newsome is currently the general manager of the Baltimore Ravens.

Newsome was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1999.

“Hometown Hall of Famers™ presented by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate” is the Hall of Fame’s first nationwide plaque program and will lead into the celebration of its 50th anniversary in August 2012.  For more information on the program and event videos, fans can visit www.profootballhof.com.

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