THROWBACK THURSDAY – In Manhattan, I see what family ties and accomplishments can do to a child’s mind and life at an early age. Parents in this city are the top income earners in the country. Many are self-made millionaires and billionaires. They send their kids to the best schools to be around other families who show their kids the best in law, business, finance, and more.
What did my family’s history do for me as a kid growing up in the small village of Wynantskill, NY?
We didn’t see any big shot lawyers or judges or “best in the world” business people, doctors or Forbes Top 40 Under 40 executives on a regular basis. Yet what I saw was not only my cousin Pete Holohan, who played football at Notre Dame and in the NFL for 12 years.
Starting around the age of 10, I also saw all of Pete’s teammates along the way. I studied Pete’s footwork, grit, work ethic and skill. I thought he was so good. And then Kellen Winslow Sr. arrived on my television screen. Pete backed up Kellen, who was of the best players to not only have played the game—he changed the definition of the ideal tight end. Kellen moved like a wide receiver, but he was built like an offensive lineman. So was Pete – except he didn’t have the same footspeed. Both were big blockers though, and that became the norm after Kellen. What is most memorable to me is not how tough, strong and skilled Kellen was on the field. It was how nice he was to our family all the time in the hotel during our annual road trips to see Pete play during his years with the San Diego Chargers. I’d want to get so mad at Kellen during the game because he was taking away from Pete’s playing time. But then he’d make a spectacular play or just gut out an incredible game like he did in this photo with his teammates helping him off the field. He had 13 catches, 166 yards, one huge field goal block, stitches in his lip, dehydrated and cramping for most of the game.
Our family saw him in the lobby of the hotels we visited when we traveled to games. He was kind, comfortable and charming even in talking to me, a young girl wearing a bow-tie shirt and hanging out with her older cousins.
What is even more impressive is what I learned about him when I read William Rhoden’s book Forty Million Dollar Slaves. Kellen took issue with how few African-American coaches are coaching at the college and pro level. He leaned heavily on his son to play for an African-American. Kellen Jr. chose University of Miami with his father’s wishes in mind. All you have to do is either read the book or just look around the NFL, and it makes sense to me.
I researched where Kellen Winslow Sr. is now and found out that he pursued a path in college athletics. I also read his bio and found out that he, as a self-described “nerd” who played chess, didn’t play football until his senior year in high school.
I would love to do a podcast with Kellen Winslow Sr. I will put that on my list. Or I will write him a letter or email saying he probably doesn’t know that I was a young girl who wanted to grow up to be just like her cousin Pete, and be the first woman in her family to receive a college scholarship. Thanks to what Pete did for our family, I ended up wanting to be just like Kellen, too.
Some photos here followed by highlights of Kellen’s career.
A few highlights on Winslow Sr. from the internet:
Winslow’s 89 catches in 1980 was an NFL record for tight ends, breaking the previous mark of 75 held by Mike Ditka. He also exceeded the 1,000 yards receiving milestone in 3 different seasons, including setting an NFL single season record for receiving yards by a tight end with 1,290 yards in the 1980 season. The record stood until Rob Gronkowski totaled 1,327 in 2011. In a 1981 regular season game, Winslow tied an NFL record by catching five touchdown passes. In a 1981–82 playoff game against the Miami Dolphins that became known as The Epic in Miami, Winslow caught a playoff record 13 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown, while also blocking a field goal with seconds remaining to send the game to overtime in one of the greatest single player efforts in NFL history. Winslow’s yardage total stood as the playoff record for tight ends for 30 years until Vernon Davis‘s 180 yards in 2012.
Kellen Winslow Sr – Career NFL Statistics
Games played: 109 Games started: 94 Receptions: 541 Receiving Yards: 6,741 Touchdowns: 45 Kellen Winslow Sr –
Accolades · 5× Pro Bowl (1980–1983, 1987) · 3× First-team All-Pro (1980–1982) · Second-team All-Pro (1987) · Pro Bowl Co-MVP (1981) · NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team · NFL 1980s All-Decade Team · NFL leader in receptions (1980, 1981) · San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame · San Diego Chargers 50th Anniversary Team · San Diego Chargers 40th Anniversary Team · Consensus All-American(1978) · Pro Football Hall of Fame (1995)