Former Mt. Olive High football star Oliver Davis presented Mt. Olive Intermediate School with a golden football from the NFL on Thursday to commemorate the league's 50th Super Bowl.
The league reached out to all the former players who had played in a Super Bowl, including former Spencer star Otis Sistrunk who presented an identical ball to that school last week. Davis said it wasn't just an honor for him, but for the school that helped shape him growing up.
"It does feel really good and it brings back a lot of memories," he said on Thursday at a ceremony in the school's cafeteria. "But I'm not the one who is going to be honored. I'm honoring the school. We want to share with all the kids and let them know that if they do the right thing in school, do their classwork and work hard, dreams do come true."
Davis' dreams did, playing college ball at Tennessee Tech and being drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the fourth round of the 1977 NFL draft. He played four seasons with the Browns, recording 11 career interceptions, before moving to the Cincinnati Bengals in 1981. He played two seasons with the Bengals, the first of which ended in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XVI.
Davis credited his work ethic off the field as the keys to his success.
"When I was growing up, my parents had three rules," he told the gathered middle school students. "Go to church, go to school and do your homework. You always do your homework first."
That habit, he said, allowed him to be a successful student, graduating valedictorian of his senior class and being named to the Dean's List in college multiple times. He told the students that as long as they follow that rule, anyone can make their dream a reality.
"We want to share with all the kids and let them know that if they do the right thing in school, do their classwork and work hard, dreams do come true," he said. "Everybody puts their pants on the same way, one leg at a time. I figured I could do the same thing coming from a small town."
Super Bowl 50 will be played on Feb. 7 at San Francisco Bay Arena in California.