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Old 03-29-2009, 10:47 AM   #1
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Default Hampton returns to stomping grounds

Hampton returns to stomping grounds

By Joshua Buckley
The Daily News

Published March 29, 2009
GALVESTON — Galveston’s biggest sports celebrity was awarded the highest honor at his alma mater.

Following a parade across the island Saturday to celebrate Casey Hampton’s accomplishments, the Ball High grad and two-time world champion with the Pittsburgh Steelers had his high school football jersey, No. 63, retired by the school. He’s the first Ball High football player to have his number retired.

“A lot of great guys came through Galveston Ball and played,” Hampton said. “It’s a big honor for me to be the first one to get my jersey retired. It’s kind of like something you never really think of. There were a lot of guys before me that have done a whole lot and played in the NFL and had great careers and didn’t have this opportunity that I have today to get my jersey retired.”

Hampton won his second Super Bowl with the Steelers in February. The four-time all-pro’s first world title came in Super Bowl XL in 2006.

But Hampton was a successful football player long before his time with the Steelers. He was twice named district defensive MVP for Ball High and earned first-team all-state honors his senior season.

Hampton went on to the University of Texas where he recorded 329 tackles in his four-year career, 11th best all-time at the program. He was a first-team All-American his junior and senior seasons at UT and was named the Big 12’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2000.

Those accomplishments led to him being drafted with the 19th overall selection by the Steelers in the 2001 NFL Draft.

“Who would have ever thought a guy that grew up on the north side of Broadway from Parkland would ever be in this position I am today,” said Hampton, who was sporting a jersey with his Ball High, UT and Pittsburgh numbers on it. “I am very blessed, and I have a lot of people to thank for that.”

Actually, several people predicted greatness for Hampton at an early age. Josie Calvin, who worked with Hampton’s mother at St. Mary’s Hospital for 15 years, said it was obvious there was something special about him as a youngster.

“I always told his mom that Casey was going to go somewhere,” Calvin said. “I didn’t know where that would be, but I knew it would be somewhere great because of what a great all-around young man he was.”

Joe Smith, whose father was a coach in the Galveston Youth Tackle Football league, shared stories of Hampton’s journey on the gridiron starting when he was spotted in a grocery store. Hampton proved to be a dominant force at that young age, with the coach calling him a “Monster.”

A couple of Hampton’s childhood friends, Eric Wells and Brandon Ford, also had several humorous stories to tell the standing-room crowd at Spoor Field. Ford said one day when the three were working at Landry’s on Seawall, Hampton looked at a huge stack of dishes that he had to wash and decided then his future was in football.

“Casey pointed at those dishes and said, ‘I can’t work no more. I just got to do what I can do on that field,’” Ford recalled.

Two of Hampton’s Ball High coaches, Nick Voris and Chalmer Adams also spoke. Adams said it was clear Hampton was the best player on the field, no matter who the opponent.

“Offenses would do one of two things — they’d double team him or they’d run away from him,” Adams said. “Double-teaming him only delayed the inevitable. Running away from him just made him madder. And when Casey got madder, he played even better.”

Voris, who was head coach of the Tors during Hampton’s career, talked about how Texas recruiters finally got smart and started recruiting Hampton after he had committed to Missouri.

“Those two men knew that when God measures an athlete, he puts a tape around a man’s heart, not his waist,” Voris said. “(Casey) had a lot of potential, he’s a fine individual and he’s a tremendous role model. You couldn’t ask for a better person.”

The jersey retirement ceremony was the final event for a busy weekend for Hampton. He hosted a gala at Gaido’s on Friday night, in hopes of raising money for the hurricane relief fund. While he wasn’t sure of the exact figure, Hampton said the event was a huge success.

Numerous children were in the Spoor Field stands sporting Hampton’s No. 98 Pittsburgh jersey. Hampton said being a role model in his hometown is something he takes seriously.

“I try to do the right thing and do things the right way,” Hampton said. “I try to show the kids what to do. When I was growing up, there weren’t a lot of role models for me, but the ones I did have really helped.

“That’s what I try to tell these kids. There are a lot of negative people out here, but there are also a lot of positives ones that can help you be a better person.”

The island parade was the second for Hampton in his career. The first came after the Super Bowl XL win.

Is there another Super Bowl winning parade in Hampton’s future? He said hopefully so — maybe even next year.

“That’s always the plan,” Hampton said with a big grin.
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Old 03-29-2009, 11:00 AM   #2

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Default Re: Hampton returns to stomping grounds

He's a monster. He just has to come to camp better in shape. Trying to move him would suck.
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Old 03-29-2009, 06:57 PM   #3
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Default Re: Hampton returns to stomping grounds

If mr. Hampton cant get the picture after last season, then he never will. He needs to show up this fall in alot better shape and ready to prove folks wrong about him.
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Old 03-30-2009, 04:00 AM   #4
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Default Re: Hampton returns to stomping grounds

He should have gotten the hint from Tomlin last year. So we will see if he has learned anything.
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Old 03-30-2009, 04:15 AM   #5
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Default Re: Hampton returns to stomping grounds

I think Hampton showed Tomlin no matter what shape he is in he is still a beast.
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Old 03-30-2009, 07:41 AM   #6
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Default Re: Hampton returns to stomping grounds

i think hampton does need to come in into camp in shape.. and if he could get his weight down a lil bit more.. i think he be better like the 05 season when he was justing eating centers alive

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Old 03-30-2009, 03:05 PM   #7
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Default Re: Hampton returns to stomping grounds

Hampton will come in shape to camp. He's playing in a contract year

He'll either come in good shape and have one of his best seasons only to leave for a bigger contract, or come like last year and have an average/good season earning him a fair contract with the steelers

That's a lot of motivation for the big man!! It's impossible that the steelers give him a big contract, so all I can hope for is he takes a pay cut....

Draft a NT early!! it's getting worrisome having so many players on contract years
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