Signs point to Ironton#8217;s football tradition

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

It’s the middle of baseball season and area basketball teams are heading to occasional camps.

But one short drive on Park Avenue tells you it’s always football season.

The signs on the street lamps reflect the history, tradition and success of football.

Email newsletter signup

Four of the signs along the street are former professional football players: George McAfee, Coy Bacon, Danny Pride, and the late Glenn Presnell.

&uot;As a child and adult, it’s something you never dream of. I’m proud of it. The Lord has blessed me. I didn’t have all the opportunities other people have had, but I made the most of what I had. It’s an honor. People of all walks of life see it,” Bacon said of his sign.

Here is a quick thumbnail of the four former pro players honored:

George McAfee: The most celebrated Ironton product. He not only led Ironton High School to its first unbeaten season in 1935, but was a two-time All-American at Duke, was picked second in the 1940 draft, played on three Chicago Bears championship teams, and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1966.

NFL punt return champion, scored 234 points, ran for 5,313 yards in 8 seasons (served in Navy from 1942-44 in World Ward II), 25 interceptions. Member 1940s All-Decade team.

Coy Bacon: Arguably a Hall of Fame caliber player, Bacon played 16 years in the NFL and one with the Washington Federals in the USFL. All-Pro in 1972, 1976, and 1977. Voted Cincinnati Bengals MVP in 1976. Set an NFL record with 26 quarterbacks sacks in 1976 only to have the NFL (questionably) lower the total to 21.5 in later years. Had 15 sacks in 1979.

Former Bengals head coach Bill “Tiger” Johnson called Bacon the best pass rusher he has ever seen behind Gino Marchetti and Deacon Jones. Played college football at Jackson State and professionally with Los Angeles Rams, San Diego, Cincinnati, and Washington. Was Rams defensive lineman of the year in 1971 and 1972.

Danny Pride: Like Bacon and McAfee, Pride was a former Ironton High School star who, like Bacon, played college football at Jackson State. A defensive back, Pride was signed by the Chicago Bears and played during the 1968 and 1969 seasons.

Pride has been coaching high school football in California.

Glenn Presnell: Another Hall of Fame caliber player, Presnell played high school football in Nebraska and then in college with the Cornhuskers. Was an All-American and led the nation in rushing his senior year.

Played for the Ironton Tanks from 1928-30, then joined the Portsmouth Spartans when the Tanks franchise folded. Played with the Spartans, who later became the Detroit Lions, in the NFL. Led the Lions to the NFL title in 1935 and also led the league in scoring in 1933. He is a member of the Nebraska state and college hall of fames.