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Doak Walker Legends Award reunites old friends in Dallas

Annual Doak Walker Legends Award ceremony reunites old friends

— When Steamboat Springs’ Rod Hanna saw Bo Jackson was set to receive the Doak Walker Legends Award, he knew he had to phone his friend.

That friend is fellow Steamboater and Mountain Valley Bank President Dean Vogelaar. Well before Vogelaar became the bank’s president, he served as the vice president of public relations for the Kansas City Royals during the time when Jackson broke onto the professional sports scene as arguably America’s greatest athlete.

In 1986, Jackson was drafted No. 1 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after a stellar football career at Auburn University. That same year he also was selected to play professional baseball for the Royals. Vogelaar got to know Jackson well during the athlete’s time as a Royal.



“We spent quite a bit of time together,” Vogelaar said. “Naturally, there was a pretty big media hype when he didn’t sign as the No. 1 pick in football and chose baseball instead.”

Hanna is one of dozens who serve on the Doak Walker Award National Selection Committee, and this year, the award, which is given annually to college football’s top running back, is celebrating its 25th year.



Since 1998, the Legends Award has served as a tribute to those who fit the current criteria for the Doak Walker Award but played before the award became one of college football’s most coveted individual honors. The former athlete had to have played after 1945 (Doak Walker’s first year playing collegiately, and they must exemplify sportsmanship, community leadership and admirable citizenship. The first Legends Award was presented to Gale Sayers.

Hanna and Vogelaar traveled to Dallas this past weekend where they joined Steamboat resident, broadcast legend and Doak Walker Award presenter Verne Lundquist for the award’s 25th anniversary ceremony. There, Jackson received the Legends Award.

“Bo was wonderful,” Hanna said. “He’s just such a neat guy.”

At this year’s Legends Award ceremony, Hanna enjoyed a personal treat of his own. As a 25-year veteran National Football League photographer, Hanna got to share the luncheon table with 2013 recipient Floyd Little, a Syracuse graduate and former Denver Bronco great.

“I got to sit next to him and his wife at the luncheon on Friday, and we just had a ball,” Hanna said. “It is really cool to get to know these guys personally.”

Vogelaar described the experience of seeing Bo again as a flashback from the past, sharing stories like when Vogelaar took Jackson pheasant hunting in Kansas for the very first time.

The two swap texts fairly often, checking in on one another. For all of Jackson’s accolades on the playing field, the things off the field are what Vogelaar loves to reminisce about.

“He had some tremendous qualities, and he’ll always have them,” Vogelaar said. “I mean, he was more interested in talking about us going pheasant hunting as opposed to athletics. He’s just a quality guy.”

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll


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