Steve Cox, who booted the second-longest field goal in NFL history at the time, was the last straight-on kicker (non soccer style) place-kicker in professional football.
He used that straight-forward address in an inspiration message to Conway students and civic leaders Monday at the 18th annual FCA-Bob Courtway Memorial Breakfast at Grove Gymnasium at the Hendrix Wellness and Athletic Center.
He remembered his father as he grew up in Charleston, a former player at Northwestern State in Louisiana, teaching him to become a kicking specialist — with good reason.
“He once told me after looking at my report card that the one thing I noticed is you can’t be cheating,” Cox related.
He was a finalist twice in the national Punt, Pass and Kick Contest, finishing second both times to a competitor named Harold King, whom Cox said showed “signs of shaving at age 9.”
He kicked for both Tulsa and the University of Arkansas, hitting three field goals for the Golden Hurricane in a 9-3 victory in 1976 over the Hogs, “which put me on the map.”
He transferred to the University of Arkansas, having to sit out a year and walk on with the Razorbacks because Tulsa wouldn’t grant him a transfer.
He remembered watching an NFL playoff game with the Cleveland Browns and the chill index in Cleveland was 38 below.
“I remembered thinking that if I got drafted, it would be my luck to be Cleveland,” he said.
It was Cleveland.
While driving to Cleveland in the old Citizen’s Band radio days, he heard the city referenced as the “Big Dirty.”
He found out when he got there.
“The Cuyahoga River that flows through town was so polluted that it once caught on fire and burned for three days,” he said. “But I discovered in my four years there, it was a great city with great people.”
He played for the Washington Redskins from 1985-88 under Joe Gibbs, where he earned a Super Bowl ring.
“But when Joe Gibbs retired he told a story that one day he hugged his son and his face was smooth, then one day he hugged him and his face had stubble and he asked ‘where have the days gone?’” said Cox, who was inducted into the Arkansas Sports of . “He kept everything in focus and to me, it meant a lot.”
In a career that had its ups and downs, he said he found a silver lining.
“I’ve learned a lot from tough times,” he said. “Sometimes God has it that way because it makes us tougher and stronger because He has something special for us to do. So rejoice in those trials and tribulations.”
He took`off his glasses and teared up, his voice breaking talked about his late father. “Dad taught me to tie a tie, tie my shoe, drive a truck, read the Bible, to pray before you eat and have faith in God.”
Also giving testimony was former Conway Christian quarterback Tanner Stevenson, who talked about how teammates and friends helped him six months ago after his mother was diagnosed with cancer.
“It’s about being there for your teammates and sharing the love of God with them,” he said.
The breakfast is held in memory of Dr. Bob Courtway a longtime coach, athletic director and Conway civic leader.