Here at Jackson State University, we are proud to boast about some incredible athletes that have graced our campus. Most of these athletes have not gone on to play a professional sport, instead opting to either further their education or go full steam ahead into the workforce. When we discuss our Hall of Famers, we want to make sure that every one of our students understands that academics come first. Without acheiving in the classroom, none of these athletes would have been able to succeed on the playing field. (Very important to keep that in mind!)
We’re very proud to have the following individuals in the Professional Football Hall of Fame
- Walter Payton. Walter really needs no introduction. He played football at JSU from 1971-1974, and was drafted 4th overall by the Chicago Bears in the 1975 NFL Draft. He went on to become one of, if not the best running back in NFL History. He broke the all time rushing yards record which was then held by OJ Simpson, and is currently second all time behind Emmitt Smith. He was given the nickname ‘Sweetness’ because of his incredible running style.
- Lem Barney. Lem played football for JSU from 1964-1967, and was a cornerback for the Detroit Lions from 1967-1977. He was named to 7 Pro Bowls, and was consistently named to the NFL All-Pro team. He retired after a very successful 10 year career, and has gone on to be a philanthropist and pastor in the Detroit metropolitan area.
- Jackie Slater. Jackie grew up in Jackson, and was actually personally recruited to play football at JSU by Walter Payton. Jackie played at JSU from 1972-1975, and was drafted in the 3rd round by the Los Angeles Rams (now St. Louis Rams), where he was an offensive tackle from 1976-1975. He made the Pro Bowl 7 times, and was consistently given special praise for his incredible work ethic and teamwork skills. Slater currently lives in Los Angeles with his family.
There are many more incredible athletes that have graced our halls, and we are all very proud to be JSU Tigers.