The 54th Curbstone Coaches Hall of Fame banquet, sponsored by Briarfield Health Care Centers and Ed and Diane Reese, is scheduled for Sunday, May 7 with 12 new members set for enshrinement during ceremonies at Mr. Anthony’s Banquet Center in Boardman.
Former Cleveland Browns star Hanford Dixon, the player credited with starting the NFL team’s famous “Dawg Pound” will serve as guest speaker.
The 2023 class includes Jim Calhoun (football), Michael Chaffee (volleyball, coach), Mike DeNiro (football, posthumous), Tony Gorvet (baseball, coach), Thomas Graham (bowling), Attorney Dennis Haines (contributor), Dom Mancini (wrestling-coach), Tom Manning (football), Tony Matisi (basketball, coach), Philip Rogers (boxing), Bob Sebo (contributor) and Don Yankle (baseball).
Dixon, the player who is credited with naming the team’s now famous ‘Dawg Pound,’ was Born December 25, 1958, in Mobile, Alabama, starring scholastically in football, basketball (three letters) and track (one letter) at Theodore High School from 1974-76.
He earned three letters as a defensive back, split end and kick-off returner for the Bobcats where he was named all-conference two consecutive seasons.
Upon graduation he earned a football scholarship to Southern Mississippi University, starring at cornerback for the Golden Eagles from 1977-80.
During his freshman season at USM, he started at cornerback and registered 44 tackles, adding two interceptions on a team that defeated Auburn (24-13), Ole Miss (27-19) and Mississippi State (14-7).
As a sophomore in 1978, he pilfered four enemy aerials and made 41 tackles then the following year as a key member of the team’s “Nasty Bunch” defense, was part of a unit that allowed just 13.3 points per game, which ranked 24th overall in the nation by the NCAA.
He finished his collegiate career with 188 total tackles (127 solo stops) and nine interceptions en-route to first-team honors by The Sporting News as a senior in 1980.
He went on to showcase his talent to the nation by being selected to two college All-Star games, playing in the 1980 Blue-Gray game in Montgomery, Alabama and the 1981 Senior Bowl, which was held in Mobile, Alabama.
He was a first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 1981 NFL Draft, the 22nd selection overall, playing his entire career with the storied NFL franchise.
As a rookie in 1981, he was selected to the Football Digest all-rookie team, earned Associated Press all-Pro honorable mention laurels in 1985 and that same season was a Pro Bowl alternate.
In 1986, he was a first-team all-Pro as selected by the AP, Pro Football Weekly, NEA, UPI, Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, Football News and College & Pro Football Newsweekly then in 1987, earned first-team all-Pro honors as chosen by the AP, NEA, UPI, PFWA, Sporting News, Football News and Pro Football Weekly.
In 131 professional games played over a stellar nine-year career, the durable defender started all but three games and registered 440 total tackles, had 26 interceptions, 100 passes defended, two quarterback sacks, three fumble recoveries, nine forced fumbles, blocked a field goal and PAT while making seven play-off appearances, starting all nine games of which the team played where he had one interception.
For his efforts, he was inducted into the Southern Mississippi University M-Club Alumni Association Sports Hall of Fame in 1988 and was also named to the school’s “Football Team of the Century.”
He later became the seventh football member of the USM Legends Club, joining Reggie Collier, Brett Favre, Ray Guy, Derrick Nix, Sammy Winder and Fred Cook.
On October 29, 2017, he attended the 4th London International Series Game in London, U.K.