Finally, tribute to Big Red great Calvin Jones

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If you can answer these two questions, you must be from Steubenville, Ohio. If not, that’s ok as long as you’re not in your 70’s.

First, who was the first African-American to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated?

Second, who was the first African-American to win the coveted Outland Trophy as the nation’s top college lineman?

Hint: He also finished tenth in the Heisman Trophy balloting that year as captain of the Iowa Hawkeyes.

Being from Steubenville he was a household name as one of the greatest players to come out of Steubenville Big Red. High school football is what everyone lives for back in the tri-state area.

Little steel mill cities back in the 50’s produced many big time players, but the one and only Calvin Jones was one of the best of the best. Now Cal gets his just reward.

Jones was a high school legend in the 50’s but in those days the NFL was laced with racism. Even though Calvin could have gone to the NFL he opted for the Canadian Football League.

Calvin played for the Winnepeg Blue Bombers and was sitting on stardom when he was killed in a plane crash on Dec. 9, 1956 over the Canadian Rockies after having played in the CFL All-Star game in Vancouver the previous day.

The next day the plane carrying Calvin and 61 others went down. There were many great players coming out of the booming Ohio Valley back then. At Iowa, Calvin was joined by two other Steubenville Big Red standouts – end Frank Gilliam and halfback Eddie Vincent.

So now Infield Fly Productions of Canada will be coming to Steubenville Stadium to film a movie titled “The Calvin Jones Memorial Football Game” as part of a documentary on the football legend and the 100th year of Canadian football. It will be broadcast on TSN in Canada.

The people are hoping to fill the stands when they film the recreation of the game, complete with the Big Red band. Believe me, it will be standing room only.

When Jones was at Big Red he was also a basketball star leading Steubenville to the state title game. Cal was also enshrined in the College football Hall of Fame at Cincinnati’s Kings Island in the 1970’s.

After Calvin there were many great players to play at the legendary Harding Stadium and I was privileged to witness many such as the great All-American “Light Horse Harry Wilson” who later became a starter at Nebraska.

The honor is great not only for Calvin Jones and his family but for the entire city of Steubenville. If you like high school football take a little road trip and catch the game, you will probably run into my good friend Reno.

 

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