Tennessee State University’s Super Bowl legacy will once again be in the spotlight when its Pro Football Hall of Famers are recognized at Super Bowl LI.
The National Football League will host Hall of Famers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities “to highlight their achievements and as part of the NFL’s growing relationship with HBCUs,” Troy Vincent Sr., the NFL's executive director of football operations, said in a letter to TSU President Glenda Glover.
“Tennessee State University has had a number of former players who have been in past Super Bowls dating back to the first one. It’s an extreme honor,” Glover said. “It also speaks to our proud tradition as a university and as an HBCU.”
TSU’s Hall of Famers are Richard Dent, a 2011 inductee and MVP of Super Bowl XX with the Chicago Bears; and Claude Humphrey, a 2014 inductee who played in Super Bowl XV with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Vincent said the HBCU Hall of Famers will be recognized in several ways, including an on-field ceremony prior to kickoff on Sunday in Houston.
“Very few football players make it to the NFL,” Vincent said. “Fewer still reach the pinnacle of our sport: The Pro Football Hall of Fame. Student-athletes at HBCUs represent only a small portion of the college football population, but an amazing 10 percent of all players in the Hall of Fame attend HBCUs.”
Tennessee State remains the best small-school producer of Super Bowl appearances (32), according to Jon Solomon of CBSSports.com. That's more than eight Power Five schools. Only 57 of the 397 colleges with Super Bowl Bowl alums can claim more appearances.
TSU’s football legacy dates back to the first Super Bowl in 1967. Then, former TSU Tigers Willie Mitchell and Fletcher Smith appeared as teammates for the Kansas City Chiefs. Since then, 19 TSU players have appeared in Super Bowls, including Ed "Too Tall" Jones in the 1970s.
More recent participants include Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (2014) and Robert Myers, who played on the Denver Broncos team that won Super Bowl 50.
Last year, Tennessee State was recognized at the 7th Annual John Wooten Leadership Awards in San Francisco for the number of TSU football players who have gone on to play in Super Bowls.
Lucas Johnson is the director of media relations at Tennessee State University.