Discover which Golden Eagles have made the biggest impact in Pro Football
Former USM football stars that have made a tremendous impact in the NFL
Few schools can boast having produced one of the best quarterbacks of all-time that earned a Super Bowl title and three consecutive NFL MVP's. The pro football legacy extends far beyond Brett Favre and includes legendary punters including Ray Guy who is regarded as the best punter of all-time.
Congratulations to 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame member, Brett Favre..... The Second Golden Eagle Enshrined in Canton!!!!
Ray Guy isn’t the only famous pro football punter from the University of Southern Mississippi. Known as “Thunderfoot,” Jerrell Wilson was the Kansas City Chiefs punter for 15 seasons (1963-1977) before concluding his career in 1978 with the New England Patriots. Along with punting duties, Wilson also served as a backup running back early in his career and rushed for 53 yards on 22 carries. Wilson died of Cancer in 2005. The New Orleans native earned key career honors:
- Retired owning NFL record for most seasons leading league (4) in punting average
- AFL-All-Time 2nd Team
- Chiefs Hall of Fame 1988
- Three-time Pro Bowl selection
Guy entered the NFL as the first pure punter to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. The Raiders selected him with the 23rd overall selection of the 1973 draft. While with the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders through 1986, Guy received numerous accolades.
The Raiders punter was a:
- Seven-time Pro Bowl selection
- Six-time First-Team All-Pro choice
- Three-time Super Bowl champion
- A member of the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team
- A member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team
Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014
After walking on and starring for the Golden Eagles, Sammy Winder was drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 5th round (131st overall pick) of the 1982 NFL Draft. Winder was a two-time Pro Bowl selection and was a driving force towards helping the Broncos make three Super Bowl appearances. Winder played until 1990 and totaled 5,472 career rushing yards and 39 TD’s. The Madison, MS native also totaled 197 receptions for 1,302 yards and 9 TD’s. To inspire his Denver Broncos football team, it has been reported that Head Coach Dan Reeves would show the collegiate highlight of Sammy Winder soaring into the end zone against Ole Miss. This gravity defying play still remains a Golden Eagle fan-favorite.
Dixon was drafted by the Cleveland Browns with the 22nd overall pick of the 1981 NFL Draft. The former USM defensive back earned three Pro Bowl selections (1996, 1997 and 1988). Dixon is also credited with naming the Browns’ rabid cheering section the “Dawg Pound” that has remained a popular nickname for Cleveland’s cheering section. Dixon totaled 26 interceptions in his NFL career. The Cornerback combination of Dixon and Frank Minnifield were selected by NFL. com as the No. 2 “Best Cornerback Tandem of All-Time.” Dixon became the seventh football member of USM’s Legends Club.
Lipps was drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the first round (23rd overall) of the 1984 NFL Draft. The New Orleans native was an instant sensation his first season and won NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors in 1984. Lipps set the NFL rookie record for most punt return yardage in a season with 656 yards. That record lasted until it was surpassed in 2011 by Patrick Peterson. Lipps played the vast majority of his career with Pittsburgh until playing his last season (1992) with New Orleans. The former USM star finished with 359 receptions for 6031 yards and 39 touchdowns.
His career highlights include:
- AP NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year in 1984
- Two-time NFL Pro Bowl selection
- Two-time All-Pro selection
The Southern Miss product entered the NFL as a second round draft choice (33rd overall pick) of the Atlanta Falcons in the 1992 NFL Draft. Along with owning numerous NFL records, Favre guided the Green Bay Packers to a Super Bowl XXXI championship and earned three consecutive AP NFL MVP awards. Favre was a true iron man and owns the NFL record for most consecutive games started which stands at 297. The former Southern QB played for four teams, (Atlanta, Green Bay, NY Jets & Minnesota Vikings).
Career highlights include:
- Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016
- 11-time NFL Pro Bowl selection
- 3-time 1st Team All-Pro
- 3-time AP NFL MVP
- Super Bowl champions
- NFL 1990s All-Decade Team
- When he retired - Records that include most TD passes (508), passing yards (71,838), games started (297) and many more.
This Golden Eagle legend joined the NFL when he was the drafted by Miami in the 2nd round as the 44th overall pick in the 1998 NFL Draft. The New Orleans native paid huge dividends by earning three Pro-Bowl seasons (2002, 2003, 2004), and two All-Pro seasons (2002 and 2003.) Surtain earned additional accolades by being named the 2002 NFL Alumni Defensive Back of the Year. Surtain played for Miami (1998-2004) and Kansas City (2005-2008). He finished with 35 career interceptions.
Although he enjoyed a heralded collegiate career in which he was the Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year his last two seasons, Thomas wasn’t drafted until the 6th round of the 2000 NFL Draft when the Baltimore Ravens selected him with the 186th overall pick. Thomas paid huge dividends once he emerged as a starter and helped lead the Ravens defensive Super Bowl XXXV championship charge. The former Southern Miss star played with Baltimore through the 2006 season and then played the final three years of his career in New England. In an article published March 7, 2012, The Bleacher Report website listed Adalius Thomas as the Baltimore Ravens best draft steal in the history of their franchise.
Career highlights include:
- Two-time Pro Bowl selection
- Two-time All-Pro
- Super Bowl XXXV Champion with Baltimore
- Led NFL in non-offensive TD’s in 2005.