Shining stars: The Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held on Thursday at the Sheraton Society Hill. TED BORDELON / FOR THE TIMES
Fox Chase native Rich Gannon had a whirlwind week in his return home, from closing up his vacation house in Ocean City, New Jersey to serving as the color analyst on the CBS broadcast of the Eagles’ loss to the Miami Dolphins.
In between, Gannon enjoyed a special day on Nov. 12.
In the afternoon, he returned to his alma mater, St. Joseph’s Prep, to present a commemorative Wilson golden football in a ceremony in the school library that included members of the football team and student council. The event was a celebration of 50 years of the Super Bowl.
That night, Gannon was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame during a ceremony at the Sheraton Society Hill.
“It’s pretty neat,” Gannon said of the experience. “It’s a great honor. I’m so appreciative to come back and celebrate with people who’ve been instrumental in my success.”
Gannon, 49, grew up on Central Avenue. His mom, Joan, still lives there.
As a youth, he attended St. Cecilia Elementary School and played sports for Fox-Rok Athletic Association. He got his start in football as a 65-pounder for Fox-Rok and later played for St. Cecilia, St. Joe’s Prep, the University of Delaware and for the Minnesota Vikings, Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins and Oakland Raiders from 1987 to 2004.
Gannon was brought to St. Joe’s Prep, 17th Street and Girard Avenue, by Old Spice as part of a nationwide tour of NFL legend high school visits.
Old Spice has arranged similar events for former players Isaac Bruce, Jessie Tuggle and Thurman Thomas.
The appearance at St. Joe’s recognizes the school’s contribution to Super Bowl history, as Gannon, a 1983 Prep grad, quarterbacked the Raiders in 2003 to Super Bowl XXXVII, a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
High schools across the nation and around the world are receiving a commemorative golden football signed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell for every player or head coach who graduated from their school and was on an active Super Bowl roster. Nearly 3,000 players and head coaches, and more than 2,000 high schools, will be recognized.
“It’s an awesome program,” Gannon said. “I’m delighted to be a part of it and to come back to Philadelphia and St. Joe’s Prep, which is a place near and dear to my heart. What a great place that is.”
At Prep, he also played basketball and was on the crew team.
After a stellar career at Delaware, he was a fourth-round draft choice in 1987 by the New England Patriots. His best years came from 1999 to 2002, when he was named to four consecutive Pro Bowls as a member of the Raiders. He was the NFL Most Valuable Player in 2002, when he threw for 4,689 yards and 26 touchdowns.
Today, he is a commentator with CBS Sports, teaming with Kevin Harlan, and Sirius XM NFL Radio. CBS will be broadcasting Super Bowl 50 (the NFL is not calling it Super Bowl L) in Santa Clara, California, and Gannon will be part of the two-week lead-up to the game on the CBS Sports Network.
As for the Hall of Fame, he was among 15 inductees into the 12th class.
“Some of these guys, I grew up watching as a kid in Northeast Philadelphia,” he said. “What a tremendous honor to be recognized by the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame.”
Gannon, who’ll turn 50 on Dec. 20, received a batch of congratulatory homemade cards from the kindergarten students at St. Cecilia, a project organized by one of his former teachers, Margie McGlynn-Haugh.
At the ceremony, he was joined by his mom; his wife, Shelley, whose dad, Bill Brown, is a former Vikings running back; his four brothers and sisters; Jack Branka, his coach at Prep; and former teammates at Prep and Delaware. His two daughters attend Bucknell.
“My story is I’m a local kid who grew up in Northeast Philadelphia, grew up in the Fox Chase section of the city,” he said in his remarks.
Gannon said he played for a lot of great coaches, singling out Tubby Raymond at Delaware and Branka.
“He’s been like a father figure to me,” Gannon said of Branka.
Gannon’s display at the ceremony included two №12 Raider jerseys, a figurine and pictures of him on the covers of Sports Illustrated and TV Guide.
In his speech, he credited fellow inductee Dick Vermeil, a former Eagles coach, with making Philadelphians “winners once again.” He was also pleased to be inducted with former Flyer Rick MacLeish.
“I loved the Broad Street Bullies,” he said.
Gannon was also happy to see past inductees such as former Eagles linebacker Bill Bergey in attendance.
“In Northeast Philadelphia, we all had 66 jerseys, that’s a fact,” he said.
The other honorees were:
• Benny McLaughlin, a Kensington native and 1946 North Catholic High School graduate who starred in soccer at Lighthouse Boys Club. He was an All-American soccer player at Temple and played in the 1948 Olympics. He was a member of the 1950 United States team that qualified for the World Cup, but could not play because he had to work and was planning his wedding.
• Billy Markward, a Spanish-American War veteran who coached basketball at Roman Catholic High School from 1900–41. He led Roman to 17 league championships.
• Rick MacLeish, who played 12 seasons for the Flyers and was a member of the Stanley Cup championship teams in 1974 and ’75. He recorded 13 goals and nine assists in the 1974 playoffs, including the only goal in Game 6 of the finals, as the Flyers beat the Boston Bruins to capture their first Cup.
• Lou Nolan, a Southwest Philadelphia native and West Catholic High School graduate who has served as the Flyers public address announcer since 1972. He was also the hockey announcer for the winter Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002.
• Garry Maddox, a Vietnam War veteran and centerfielder with the Phillies from 1975–86 who won eight Gold Gloves. He was named the “Secretary of Defense” by Harry Kalas, who also declared, “Two-thirds of the Earth is covered by water, the other one-third is covered by Garry Maddox.” Maddox played on the 1980 team that won the World Series. That year, he had the game-winning RBI double as the Phillies beat the Houston Astros in extra innings in the fifth and final game of the National League Championship Series.
• Dick Vermeil, who coached football at UCLA and with the Eagles, St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs. At UCLA, his team beat №1 Ohio State in the Rose Bowl. He coached the Eagles to Super Bowl XV and won Super Bowl XXXIV with the Rams.
• Cindy Timchal, a Havertown native who has coached women’s lacrosse at Northwestern, Maryland and Navy. She led Maryland to eight NCAA titles.
• Walt Hazzard, who played basketball at Overbrook High School. He went on to start for three years at guard for UCLA, helping the Bruins to the 1964 NCAA title. That same year, he won a gold medal as a member of the U.S. Olympic team. In the NBA, he played for the Los Angeles Lakers, Seattle SuperSonics, Atlanta Hawks, Buffalo Braves and Golden State Warriors. He coached UCLA from 1985–88. Hazzard died in 2011.
• Tim Brown, who was a halfback and kick and punt returner for the Eagles from 1960–67. He played for the 1960 team that won the NFL championship.
• Bob Montgomery, a former lightweight boxing champion.
• Karen Shelton, who played on four national champion field hockey teams from 1976–79 at West Chester. She also played on the national team, competing in two Olympics. She is the longtime coach at the University of North Carolina.
• Sam Thompson, an outfielder for the Phillies from 1889–98.
• Dick Williams, a singles and doubles tennis champion at Harvard. He played on five U.S. Davis Cup teams. He won the doubles championship at Wimbledon in 1920 and a gold medal in mixed doubles at the 1924 Olympics.
• Dave Zinkoff, colorful public address announcer for the Phillies, Temple, the Philadelphia Warriors and 76ers. His microphone was retired by the Sixers in 1986.
Former 76ers general manager Pat Williams hosted the event.
Previous inductees in attendance included Speedy Morris, Tommy McDonald, Bill Bergey, Brian Propp, Dan Baker, Bill Barber, Tina Sloan Green, Ray Didinger, Joe Hand Sr., Bob Levy, Ernie Beck and Sonny Hill.
The Hall of Fame is based at Spike’s, a trophy and awards shop at 2701 Grant Ave. The pub-lic is in-vited to view the gal-lery Sat-urdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. or by appointment.
For more in-form-a-tion, vis-it Phillyhall.org ••
One of the greats: Fox Chase native Rich Gannon, shown above presenting a commemorative golden football in the St. Joseph’s Prep library on Nov. 12, was inducted into the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame during a ceremony that evening. MARIA S. YOUNG / TIMES PHOTO