Corbin High School students, faculty, staff, and supporters of the Redhound athletics program all packed themselves into Gilliam Gymnasium Tuesday morning to honor legendary football player Rodger Bird, who reached the pinnacle of the sport in 1968 when he appeared in Super Bowl II as a member of the Oakland Raiders.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Super Bowl in 2016, the National Football League is presenting high schools across the nation with golden footballs for producing players that later went on to compete in the championship game. On Tuesday, Bird signed the gold ball that is now prominently displayed inside the brand new trophy case located just outside the gym at CHS.
Bird graduated from Corbin in 1962. As a Redhound he was twice named to the All-State list, and he helped lead the team to an undefeated season in 1960. He went on to play college ball at the University of Kentucky, where he was a first team All-American, and has since received SEC Legend honors. He was a first-round draft pick for the Raiders in 1965, winning Defensive Rookie of the Year that season.
When addressing the crowd on hand to witness Tuesday’s presentation, Bird said, “Corbin High School is outstanding in every way. We’ve had great players, great teams, and we’ve had great coaches. Most of all, our education system has been outstanding. The support that this school receives from this town is without a doubt among the best in the country. That’s the reason that I wanted to say to the people of Corbin that I really appreciate everything, and I love you all.”
Bird went on to say that he was grateful for all that he was able to accomplish in the sport of football, thanking his family and other supporters for their help along the way. Speaking again about how special Corbin is to him, he said, “This school is unusual. It stands out. No matter where you go in the state of Kentucky the Redhounds are remembered, and I don’t think that is going to change at all.”
Bird also took the opportunity to speak to the CHS student body about the importance of education, offering his help and advice to any that needed it. As for the future of his old school, he said, “I hope that everyone will continue supporting the athletics and education here so that someday these students might be able to play professionally as well.”
“This isn’t about me,” Bird said in closing. “This is about Corbin. I’m mighty proud of Corbin.”
After Tuesday morning’s presentation, Bird and his guests were treated to lunch in the CHS media center. He then met with several student-athletes throughout the day, and was recognized once more in between the Redhounds and Lady Hounds basketball games Tuesday evening.
News Journal Publisher Emeritus Don Estep served as emcee for Tuesday’s program. Corbin High School Principal John Crawford also spoke at the event, as did Mayor Willard McBurney, who officially declared this “Rodger Bird Week” in the city of Corbin. Bird was also given a key to the city by the mayor.
The program was opened with a prayer by CHS senior Jaclyn Jewell, and the presenting of our nation’s colors by the CHS color guard. The school band and choir performed the national anthem, and the band later played the school fight song while the two-time state champion Corbin cheer team performed for the crowd.