Rich Gannon never played for the Philadelphia Eagles, but he is still a Philadelphia legend, having set records as a quarterback for St. Joseph’s Prep High from 1980 to 1983 before an 17-year NFL career. As a former MVP who led the Oakland Raiders to the 2003 Super Bowl, Old Spice had him come back to St. Joe’s Prep on Nov. 12 as part of the NFL High School Honor Roll Program, right before getting inducted to the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame hours later.
St. Joe’s Prep is one of over 2,000 high schools to have a graduate who was on an active Super Bowl roster. As a result, Old Spice is honoring them and the Super Bowl’s 50th anniversary by sending commemorative Wilson Golden Footballs to these schools. Gannon was one of four NFL legends chosen to present their alma mater’s Golden Football in person at a special school assembly, and to help Old Spice give kids the self-confidence to look and smell their best.
“We’re really just trying to encourage the kids that confidence starts with looking and smelling your best,” Gannon said before the ceremony. “Especially for some of the young kids who are going through those formative years and trying to navigate the seas of manhood.”
The High School Honor Program gives them the inspiration by having nearly 3,000 players and coaches from Super Bowls past visit their old high schools and their current students. “I just think it’s a great way to be able to give back, and to really say thanks,” Gannon stated.
Gannon jumped at the chance to visit St. Joe’s Prep again, which he obviously hasn’t had much time to do over the years. Between 17 years of playing football with the Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs, and his current jobs as an CBS Sports NFL analyst, co-host of the daily Sirius XM NFL Radio Show The Sirius Blitz and weekly host of the CBS Sports Network show NFL Monday QB, it has been difficult but not impossible for him to keep in touch with his old school since graduating 32 years ago.
“I still have great relationships with a lot of people here,” Gannon stated, knowing full well that St. Joe’s Prep Hawks are still a football powerhouse as Pennsylvania’s two-time defending state champions. However, his return this week doesn’t just revolve around football for Gannon.
“It’s good to be able to steal a couple hours to come back to your high school, and to really see so many familiar faces and friends,” Gannon expressed, adding that “This is a place that’s very near and dear to obviously a lot of Philadelphians,” as it has been since its doors opened in 1851.
While he started building his football career in Philadelphia, his greatest run of success in the NFL was with Oakland from 1999 to 2002, playing the first three of those years under former Eagles assistant coach Jon Gruden. “I just needed a team that would give me the opportunity,” Gannon said.
That opportunity paid off in a 2002-03 MVP season and Super Bowl appearance against Gruden’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, which is how St. Joe’s Prep became eligible to be honored by Old Spice. Ironically, the 4-4 Raiders of 2015 may now be on the verge of their best season since then, with Gannon calling new Raiders signal caller Derek Carr the “best young quarterback in football right now.”
Nevertheless, they still only have the same .500 record as the Eagles, who have inspired much more cautious optimism after their overtime win over the Dallas Cowboys on Nov. 8.
“It could be a turning point for them,” Gannon said, although the key lies with quarterback Sam Bradford. “What’s amazing is when he takes care of the football, they are tough to beat.”
Bradford will attempt to keep it going when the Eagles host the Miami Dolphins on Nov. 15 at 1 p.m. est, in a game which Gannon will analyze for CBS to cap off his week-long Philadelphia homecoming.