While most people talking about Super Bowl 50 are referencing the Carolina Panthers and the Denver Broncos, who will meet on the field Sunday night in California, Elkin High School has its own souvenir marking Super Bowl history — a gold-colored Super Bowl 50 football.
The golden footballs were sent to high schools around the nation who had an alumnus in a coaching or playing position in one of the last 49 Super Bowls, and Elkin falls into that category.
Jeff Hayes, a punter at Elkin, went on to play at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill before playing for several years on NFL teams. In the early 1980s, Hayes played for the Washington Redskins and went with them to Super Bowl XVII and XVIII.
The arrival of the Super Bowl 50 football was a surprise for the staff at Elkin High School. “We had no idea it was coming,” said Principal Joel Hoyle. “It just showed up. One of the UPS guys dropped it off.”
The football was delivered on one of the days the school system had released students early or were out for the day due to inclement weather, but the staff was in the office.
“I didn’t know what it was when I opened the box,” Hoyle said. “I opened it, read the letter and looked it up on the internet.”
Sure enough, it was legitimate.
According to the letter signed by Roger Goodell, commissioner of the NFL, the new program is called the Super Bowl High School Honor Roll.
“As we mark our 50th Super Bowl this season, we are celebrating the players and coaches of the past 49 Super Bowls and their high schools and communities that have positively impacted our great game,” Goodell wrote. “Nearly 3,000 players and head coaches, and more than 2,000 high schools, will be recognized this season.”
The football isn’t the only perk of being part of the honor roll. Goodell explained, as a member, Elkin High School also will “receive an NFL Character Education Curriculum and is eligible to apply for a grant from the NFL Foundation to help support your school’s football program.”
“It’s my understanding they are going to do this from here on out,” Hoyle said of adding high schools of future Super Bowl players and coaches to the honor roll.
“It’s neat for high schools to be able to showcase their alumni,” he said, adding that he spoke to Hayes’ father and his parents also were unaware the golden football was being sent to the school.
Goodell said, “Football has always been about more than wins and losses. The game teaches lessons that last a lifetime. High school football programs from coast to coast have consistently developed citizens of high character by instilling the values of football in their student athletes.”
“A lot of students have come by to see it,” Hoyle said of the golden football. “We’ll probably leave it out here till the end of the year, and then we’ll decide if we’re going to move it to the athletic trophy near the gym.”
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.