Former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete’s entrance to his alma mater was quiet on Tuesday night despite being highly anticipated.
He passed the electronic signs welcoming him and his family, and said hello to a few people in the lobby. He then was ushered inside the Shawnee Mission South High School gymnasium, where the Raiders were to play a basketball game with Olathe Northwest, to await a special halftime ceremony that brought him back to the area from his home in Los Angeles.
When the time came, Peete thanked the school for being so welcoming and presented athletic director John Johnson a golden football as part of the NFL’s Super Bowl High School Honor Roll program. It recognizes programs and communities that have contributed to Super Bowl history.
Peete, a 1984 graduate, was with the Carolina Panthers when they went to the big game in 2004. The school will display a signed Panthers jersey alongside the ball.
“For them to have my jersey here and put it up is like icing on the cake,” Peete said. “You never want to forget where you came from and what helped you get there. This place is so inspirational and always will have a special place in my heart.”
Peete started his high school career in Tuscon, Ariz., and transferred to Shawnee Mission South for his senior season. His father, Willie, was running backs coach for the Chiefs from 1983 to 1986.
Peete was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays after graduating but elected to attend the University of Southern California. He won several honors there, including the 1988 Johnny Unitas Award as the nation’s best senior quarterback and the 1988 Pop Warner Trophy as the most valuable player on the West Coast. He was a 1988 first-team All-American and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting as a senior.
He was drafted three more times for baseball and then selected by the Detroit Lions with the 141st pick of the 1989 NFL draft. His professional career spanned 16 years, and he played with six teams before retiring in 2005.
Several other high school across the United States and the world will receive commemorative Wilson Golden Footballs for each player or coach that graduated and was on an active Super Bowl roster. They can also apply for grants of up to $5,000 to help support and grow their football programs. The NFL Foundation has invested $1 million toward the campaign.