Berry returns to roots

Berry returns to roots

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Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Raymond Berry, a six-time Pro Bowl selection with the Baltimore Colts, was honored Friday as a Hometown Hall of Famer™ by the Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company during a special plaque ceremony at Paris High School in Paris, Texas. Berry was presented the historic hometown plaque on the same day as the school’s homecoming celebration.  The audience on hand included the sophomore, junior and senior classes, marching band and many of his former teammates.

Presenting Berry with his plaque was former high school teammate and longtime friend Sammy Morrow. He shared childhood stories about playing football in their neighborhood, watching “10 cent picture shows” in Paris and later playing each other on a collegiate level. Morrow spoke of Berry’s accomplishments on the field as a player and coach and expressed how proud he was to be a part of a ceremony that gave Berry the welcome home he deserved.

After the unveiling of the plaque, Berry addressed the crowd with an overwhelming amount of appreciation and spoke about how grateful he was to grow up in a town like Paris.

“I went to elementary school here and high school, where my father coached the football team. There’s no place I would have rather grown up but right here in Paris,” said Berry. “I still think this town is one of the best towns in the United States of America, and I’m happy to call this place my hometown.”

More than 60 years have passed since Berry last hit the field at Paris High School, and despite all of his accomplishments since then he still considers the Paris Wildcats district championship win during his senior year one of the highlights of his career.

In addition to the plaque, a commemorative Raymond Berry  Hometown Hall of Famer™  road sign will be on display in Paris, Texas.

Additional speakers included event emcee and Paris High School Principal Gary Preston, Craig McGregor, Allstate Insurance Company, and Brock Richards, program director of Pro Football Hall of Fame Enterprises.

“Today, it’s all about celebrating Paris High School and the Paris community,” said Richards. “Raymond chose Paris High School as its permanent home to serve as an inspiration for generations to come.”

Also in attendance was the Paris Independent School District’s superintendent and deputy superintendent as well as former Alabama head coach and College Football Hall of Famer, coach Gene Stalling – a Paris native and current resident.

Berry, who needed to wear special shoes because one leg was shorter than the other, didn’t become a starter on the Paris High School football team until his senior year. That season, Berry called the plays as a senior wide receiver and helped lead Paris High School to an undefeated season and a district championship.

Berry went on to play for Southern Methodist University where he caught only 33 passes before being selected as a future pick by the Baltimore Colts in the 20th round of the 1954 NFL Draft. Berry led the NFL three straight times in receptions and caught a retired as the game’s all-time leading receiver. In 13 seasons, he hauled in a record-setting 631 passes for 9,275 yards and 68 touchdowns. A sure-handed receiver, Berry fumbled the ball only once. He is a member of the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team and the NFL 1950s All-Decade Team, and was an All-NFL choice three times.

After Berry retired as a player, he later embarked on a coaching career in the NFL. He joined the New England Patriots as a receivers coach in 1978 and as was promoted to head coach in 1984. Under Berry’s leadership, the Patriots won the AFC championship advanced to play in Super Bowl XX. He also spent time coaching the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions and Denver Broncos.

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

Berry was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1973.

Watch ceremony highlights>>>

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