I.C. MURRELL — Priceless jewels add to our luster

Published 12:07 am Friday, January 17, 2020

The most valuable jewel in America might be purchased, but only as a replica.

Only after someone has earned a championship ring can he or she really appreciate its value. If it’s earned, it’s priceless.

That is not to say I am not proud of the four St. Louis Cardinals replicas that rest on top of my grandfather’s old bookshelf.

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What Kary Vincent Jr. accomplished Monday night along with the rest of his LSU teammates is for Port Arthur to treasure for a long time — heck, forever. Not too many hometowns can lay claim to a football player that’s won a major-college national championship.

An avid sports fan in town posed a question that warranted some serious journalistic investigation — how many college football players from Port Arthur have won national championships?

Anyone whose heart rests in this city has found some priceless treasures. Through brainstorming on Twitter and with the help of another fan and some sportscasters, we came up with 10:

  • Texas lays claim to five: Clarence Bray and Ronnie Landry, 1963; Raymond Fontenot and Cotton Speyrer, 1969; and Jamaal Charles, 2005. Good to be a Texas ex, I guess.
  • Ohio State’s Archie Griffin might have won the Heisman Trophy in 1974 and 1975, but Joe Washington Jr. led Oklahoma to No. 1 both seasons.
  • Bobby Leopold helped Notre Dame deny Texas another ring in 1977 with an “upset” (more like dominating) win in the Cotton Bowl.
  • Jimmy Johnson, a man known to pull off a rare championship double as a coach, first achieved one as a player at Arkansas in 1964. Thank the Football Writers Association of America for voting after the bowl season (Texas beat already crowned consensus champ Alabama in the Orange Bowl and the Razorbacks stayed undefeated by beating Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl).

In 1987, Johnson’s Miami Hurricanes rose to the top.

  • Last but never least, Vincent became the second member of a No. 1-finishing LSU team. Eric Alexander helped turn Nick Saban into a championship coach in 2003.

Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Jimmy Johnson, Alabama, Nick Saban. See how football brings us together?

If these championships aren’t good enough for this city, let’s not forget that Leopold, Washington, Alexander and Johnson are also NFL champions. In all, 10 men from Port Arthur have taken part in the Super Bowl, with seven winning at least one ring.

Port Arthur is known for valuable resources, but Vincent’s latest victory should remind us that priceless treasures are stored here as well. When we realize this, we can use our luster to shine where we need to reflect light.

Geez, it’s so fun to find hidden jewels.

I.C. Murrell is the editor of The Port Arthur News. He can be reached at 409-721-2435 or at ic.murrell@panews.com.

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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