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Guests and inductees mingle in the lobby of the Decatur Holiday Inn on Saturday prior to the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame banquet. The organization gained seven new members.
Daily photo by Emily Saunders
Guests and inductees mingle in the lobby of the Decatur Holiday Inn on Saturday prior to the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame banquet. The organization gained seven new members.

Morgan inducts new class
Ferrell entertains crowd with acceptance speech

By Mark Edwards
medwards@decaturdaily.com · 340-2461

After receiving a last-minute request to speak at the Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame banquet Saturday night, Roger Ferrell proved he still can think as quickly on his feet as he did more than three decades ago as a Decatur High quarterback.

Each year at the banquet, the Hall of Fame committee picks one of the inductees to speak on behalf of everyone honored that year.

This year, the committee picked Ferrell, who was one of seven inductees Saturday. The rest of the list included former Austin High basketball standout Rick Stukes, ex-Hartselle High football players Johnny and Preston Newman, former Priceville High basketball stars Alfred and Donald Poole, and all-SEC Alabama shortstop Larry Keenum.

However, nobody told Ferrell until about 20 minutes before the banquet.

That’s when former Decatur High basketball coach Wally Sanders asked him if he had his speech ready.

“I said, ‘What speech?’ And he said, ‘The one you’re making on behalf of the inductees,’ ” said Ferrell, who started at quarterback for Decatur during 1968-70 before spending five seasons playing for North Alabama.

Ferrell said he told Sanders that he must be kidding.

Sanders told Ferrell that he would be right back.

When he returned, he had another former Decatur High coach, Earl Morris, with him.

“Coach Morris said, ‘Roger, I meant to tell you last Sunday about doing this,’ ” Ferrell said.

However, Ferrell seemed to handle it well, speaking for about eight minutes and drawing laughter and applause that rivaled that of keynote speaker Steve Shaw, a Southeastern Conference football official who spoke earlier for about 30 minutes.

Ferrell told a few funny stories, including the one about how he got the late notice about speaking.

He also joked about having his small moment of fame, comparing it to the late artist Andy Warhol, who once said that in the future everyone will get 15 minutes of fame.

“With seven inductees, that means I have one hour and 45 minutes to thank you,” he said as the crowd of about 350 laughed along.

Ferrell also told a story about watching an Atlanta Falcons practice in the 1980s when he noticed a large, athletic-looking man in the stands. When Ferrell asked him why he wasn’t playing, the man said that he was injured and receiving therapy.

Ferrell said he struck up a conversation and found out that they had played against each other in college.

The man played at Tennessee-Martin when Ferrell played at UNA.

“He asked me, ‘Are you Ferrell?’ ” said Ferrell, who added that the question made his head swell with pride at being recognized by an NFL player.

Ferrell confirmed that he was, and “then he said, ‘You’re the son of a blank who bit me on the goal line.’ ”

“So now when anybody asks me if I’m Roger Ferrell, I answer, ‘Why do you ask?’ ” Ferrell said.

Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame

The Morgan County Sports Hall of Fame honored its 2007 induction class at a banquet Saturday night. The class included Larry Keenum, Alfred and Donald Poole, Rick Stukes, Roger Ferrell and Preston and Johnny Newman. The Hall of Fame has inducted classes annually since 1990, and proceeds from the induction banquet benefit the Boys and Girls Clubs.

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