Warren County’s best of the 1970s: County players leave legacy on, off field|[11/13/2005]

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005

Richard Blackmore and James Jones, both former Vicksburg High stars, had a nice rivalry in professional football.

Blackmore played for the Philadelphia Eagles, while Jones played fullback for legendary Dallas Cowboys coach Tom Landry.

They are just two of a handful of the best in the 1970s that reached the professional level. Most of the players chosen by the readers of The Vicksburg Post played major college football. Not many reached the pro ranks like Jones and Blackmore.

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Sylvester Stamps had a six-year career with the Atlanta Falcons and wide receiver Keith Wright played for the Cleveland Browns.

But most of the best players during a golden decade of football in Warren County had their careers end in college.

Michael Sweet had a tryout with the Birmingham Stallions of the old United States Football League, he said, but never caught on.

And ask him now, and it’s the best thing that ever happened to him.

Sweet, a superstar at Vicksburg High, played three seasons at Ole Miss and gave pro ball a shot. His life, though, began spiralling. He moved back to Vicksburg, found a newfound faith in God and has been helping people ever since.

Instead of playing pro ball, Sweet dedicated his life to helping others. He worked for 15 years in a center for the mentally challenged and has worked with the Boys and Girls Clubs for nine years. He preaches at the Gateway Rescue Mission in Jackson.

Michael Dottorey played football for Bear Bryant at Alabama before leaving the game and becoming a counselor at Northwest Mississippi Community College.

So many came out of football and began working in professions that help others. We have teachers and counselors, preachers and doctors. Some move away, others return to make their lives in the hometowns.

They keep the rich football tradition in this county churning by coaching youth football, raising their own children to be football players and trying to keep a tradition of excellence moving for the next 50 years.

Voting for the 1970s became the most heated of all the decades and the results were closer in this balloting than any other.

Every player nominated deserves recognition and the ones chosen represent this county in the finest way possible.

Next Sunday, we’ll look at the best players from the 1980s.