Author Michael Hurd joins the Texas Sports Hall of Fame Podcast to discuss his book Thursday Night Lights: The Story of Black High School in Texas, a book that celebrates the rich history of Prairie View Interscholastic League (PVIL) football -- a league that produced many pro and college football stars including Dick "Night Train" Lane, Bubba Smith, and Ken Houston.
The PVIL stood as the governing body for black schools in Texas throughout the decades of segregation. The league provided a home for the biggest high school event in America in its heyday, the annual Turkey Day Classic between Houston Yates and Houston Wheatley.
Hurd shares with us the exciting history of PVIL football programs from the hardscrabble days of the 1940s when Joe Washington started his high school’s program while still a high school student in Rosenberg, Texas, and through the glory years in the 1960s when Charlton Pollard coach Willie Ray Smith, Sr. and Hebert coach Clifford Ozen seemed to produce football star after football star through their rivalry in Beaumont, Texas. Joe Washington’s son -- Joe Washington Jr. – wound up being the fourth-overall pick in the 1976 NFL draft. Three sons of Willie Ray Smith, Sr. were all major recruits coming out of high school, most notably future NFL legend Bubba Smith.
Hurd also conveys the excitement of Kansas City Chiefs star Otis Taylor showing off his new Ford Thunderbird to Hurd and his schoolmates as well as the tremendous athletic ability and ultimately tragic story of Eldridge Dickey, a man who earned the nickname, “The Lord’s Prayer” for his prayers before games and his accomplishments at quarterback.
This episode Texas Sports Hall of Fame Podcast is presented by the Hampton Inn Waco. The show is written and produced by host Jackson Michael, author of The Game Before the Money: Voices of the Men Who Built the NFL.