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January 17, 2014

Six men will be inducted into Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame

OKLAHOMA CITY — To say J.C. Watts has lived an interesting life would be an understatement.

From college football quarterback to U.S. Congressman to successful businessman, the former Oklahoma Sooner has carved a wide and diverse career path.

However, Watts said none of it would have been possible without the foundation that was instilled in him growing up playing sports in Eufaula.

“Everything that I’ve done, my cornerstone has been my faith and athletics,” Watts said. “My experience as an Eufaula Ironhead, coaches Paul Bell (football) and Perry Anderson (basketball) teaching those old fundamental values of sacrifice, hard work, paying the price, never giving up, making smart choices on and off the field — that gave me my foundation.”

Watts soon will be able to add Hall of Fame inductee to his resumé. It was announced Thursday at the Leadership Luncheon in Oklahoma City that he will join Roy Cooper (pro rodeo), Mick Cornett (sportscaster), Leslie O’Neal (football), Darrell Porter (baseball) and Gerald Tucker (basketball) as the newest class added to the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame.

Porter and Tucker will be inducted posthumously.

“I knew that he would be here someday,” former Oklahoma coach Barry Switzer said. “It was just a matter of time for all of the great players at Oklahoma. When I look at J.C., we won eight consecutive Big 8 championships. When I lost J.C. Watts, that run ended.”

While Switzer may have been confident, Watts said it never crossed his mind that he would be considered.

“I never thought about it, actually,” Watts said. “When Eddie Griffin called me, left word on my cell phone, I was floored and quite surprised but at the same time, extremely honored.

“Most of my time these days is spent making memories with grandkids and hanging out with kids and traveling and trying to keep all the dots connected in the business world. To get that phone call was quite startling but quite pleasing.”

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