Boys in the Hall
Drew Brees, Walt Garrison and Ricky Williams highlighted the 2012 class of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
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Drew Brees, Walt Garrison and Ricky Williams have accumulated the highest honors over the years, from championships to individual awards. On Monday night, they earned one more, the highest honor the state of Texas can bestow upon an athlete.
Brees, Garrison and Williams were among the seven-person 2012 class of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, which held its induction ceremony on Monday night at the Ferrell Center on the Baylor campus in Waco.
The stars were out on this night in Waco, with past inductees from across the Texas sports landscape in attendance. From football’s best like former Texas Tech coach Spike Dykes, Texas legend Earl Campbell and all-time Texas high school football rushing leader Ken Hall, to the luminaries of other sports like Rudy Tomjanovich, it was a virtual who’s who of Texas athletic excellence.
But the focus on Monday night was rightly on the seven-person induction class, which also included Texas softball star Cat Osterman, NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal (who was unable to attend due to a family emergency) and Baseball Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews (inducted posthumously).
Drew Brees is a household name now, what with his Super Bowl MVP, his seven Pro Bowls and his numerous records both in the pros and at Purdue, but the undersized quarterback got his start in Austin. Brees was an All-State quarterback – and a Dave Campbell’s Texas Football favorite – at Austin Westlake, throwing for 3,528 yards in leading the Chaps to the 5A Division II state championship during his senior year in 1996. During his induction speech, a grateful Brees said that of all of his experiences, winning the state championship in Texas is perhaps his greatest memory.
Walt Garrison is as Texas as they come, from his days as a hard-charging running back at Lewisville High School to his nine-year career as one of the Dallas Cowboys’ most memorable players. Garrison, an Oklahoma State graduate (which drew billionaire tycoon and Oklahoma State booster T. Boone Pickens to Waco as well), finished his NFL career with 3,886 rushing yards and 1,794 receiving yards, and is a member of both the Dallas Cowboys 25th Anniversary Team and the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame (in his spare time, he’s a true cowboy, roping and riding and rodeoing). Always a colorful character, Garrison’s induction speech from beneath his trademark cowboy hat included an impromptu rendition of his “People are Funny Critters” monologue, which delighted the crowd.
Ricky Williams is a name that, just 14 years after taking his last snap in Austin, is already legendary at the University of Texas. A San Diego native drawn to UT by coach John Mackovic, Williams ran for a then-NCAA record 6,279 yards in his career and won the Heisman Trophy in 1998, becoming just the second Longhorn to win the trophy after Earl Campbell. He went on to an occasionally exceptional, often disappointing, never boring NFL career, but he’ll be best known in Texas as one of the Longhorns’ greatest players. His induction speech was gracious and often humorous, and focused heavily on his time in Austin.
It was a star-studded evening in Waco for the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, as the state’s most revered honorary sports institution grew both in size and in character.
Greg Tepper is the associate editor of Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.