Growing up in Lubbock, E.J. Holub happily dashed to Jones Stadium every autumn Saturday that Texas Tech had a home football game. Once he got there, he’d trade his bicycle for a vendor tray, loading up soft drinks to hawk.
“I didn’t sell very many, because I was watching the ballgame most of the time,” Holub told a banquet crowd Friday at the Memorial Civic Center.
A few years later, Holub felt flattered to receive a football scholarship from the Red Raiders. Hometown pride never left him, through a decade of pro football and beyond.
“When I went up to New York,” Holub said, “everybody knew where Texas Tech was — in Lubbock, Texas — because I wasn’t only known for just being E.J.; I was known for being a loudmouth, and I expressed my opinion very loudly up there.
“I let them know what a great town it was — the citizens that were there and the school and the administration that makes all athletes pass and do good in college and the fans who support you, come rain or shine. It’s so warm for me to just talk about it. I have to take a breath every once in a while, because I get emotional.”
The feelings are being underscored again this weekend with Holub and fellow Tech all-Americans Donny Anderson and Dave Parks forming the charter class of the Tech Football Ring of Honor. Holub was an all-American in 1959 and 1960, Parks was an all-American in 1963 and the first pick in the NFL draft in 1964 and Anderson was an all-American in 1964 and 1965.
“I guarantee you, these are three that set the foundation,” Tech Chancellor Kent Hance told the lunch-hour audience.
The three — vital figures in helping elevate Tech from the obscurity of the Border Conference to the big-time stage of the Southwest Conference — are already members of the Tech Athletic Hall of Fame. Second-year Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt came up with the idea of the Ring of Honor as a more visible way to recognize Red Raider greats.
Friday’s induction banquet will be followed by another ceremony at Jones AT&T Stadium just before the Red Raiders’ season opener against Northwestern State at 6 p.m. today. The names and jersey numbers of the honorees have been carved into the facade of the west-side stadium building, facing the field.
Anderson choked up during his acceptance speech and called it “the highest honor you can receive as an athlete.”
Commonly regarded among the best — if not the best — all-around athlete to ever wear the scarlet and black, Anderson made his mark rushing, receiving, returning kicks and punting ... and that was just in football. He went to Tech determined to be a baseball player — Red Raiders coach JT King told Anderson he could play baseball if he also played football. He eventually spent nine years as an NFL running back.
“Whether he was playing baseball, golf or whatever, Donny was the best,” said Hance, a Tech-student contemporary of the three men.
Holub, flashing his typically booming voice and gregarious personality, cracked up the crowd with a tale of a post-Tech encounter with Anderson. Anderson played running back for the Green Bay Packers and the St. Louis Cardinals, Holub was a center and linebacker for the Dallas Texans and Kansas City Chiefs, and they knocked heads in Super Bowl I.
“When I tackled him, I pulled the hair on his legs,” Holub said. “I said, ‘I got you back, son.’”
Tech has four former players who have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The first three were Holub in 1986, Anderson in 1989 and Parks in 2008. All three are also members of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame, Parks being the most recent inductee in 2011.
On Friday, Parks was deferential to his two fellow honorees.
“When I came up, E.J. was the man, and here today he’s still the man,” said Parks, a standout end and defensive back who came to Tech from Abilene. “Donny is a pretty fair athlete in everything.”
For his part, Parks has always stressed the value of team during his recent hall inductions. He didn’t stray from that theme this time.
“I love the game and I was always ready to play and do the best I could,” Parks told the Civic Center crowd. “But it’s a team thing, and it’s hard to tell all your teammates what a great job they’re doing, how much you appreciate them. It looks like the only time you do it is years after.
“It’s your teammates, because nobody does it by themselves.”
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