Collected Wisdom: Kenny King, former Oklahoma and NFL running back

by Michael Baldwin Modified: March 15, 2014 at 4:01 pm •  Published: March 15, 2014
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Kenny King was a running back in Oklahoma’s famed wishbone offense in the 1970s. Playing alongside Billy Sims, King was part of dominant OU teams that on the defensive side featured the Selmon brothers.

King, who is a native of tiny Clarendon, Texas, went on to rush for 2,477 yards in seven NFL seasons. His primary role was as the lead blocker for Hall of Famer Marcus Allen. He also played his rookie season with Earl Campbell in Houston.

After his NFL career ended, King lived for several years in the Denver area, moved to California in 2004 and relocated to Fort Worth seven years ago.

The 1975 (incoming) class at OU I was part of might be the greatest in school history. That class included seventeen of the top 20 blue-chippers in Texas. Eleven of us got drafted in the NFL in 1979. I can’t remember another class that’s ever done that. That was such an honor just to be part of a class like that.

Barry Switzer is one of the greatest motivators I’ve ever seen. Having him come spend the night with me in Clarendon the night before national signing day made a huge impression on me, something I’ll never forget.

My father wanted me to go to Texas A&M, and my high school coach wanted me to go to his alma mater, Howard Payne. Because I was from a small town — OU had a depth chart seven players deep — they thought I might get swallowed up, but I viewed it as an opportunity to see how I measured up.

While I was at OU, I think we were 47-7-1. That was an amazing run those four years. I had the opportunity to play on a national championship team and play for four Big Eight champions, a true blessing.

I’ll never forget that (80-yard touchdown reception) in Super Bowl XV. Even though it was 30 years ago, people still talk about it. It was a Super Bowl record that stood 17 years. To be part of a Super Bowl champion that season was very special.

Opposing fans chanting, ‘If you didn’t have King you wouldn’t have a team,’ was one of my favorite memories my senior year when we were playing the Silverton Owls.

I grew up in a small town of 2,000 people in west Texas. We only had 42 in my graduating class. To get the opportunity to play at such a prestigious university like Oklahoma, then to get to play in the NFL, I feel so blessed, so thankful.

One time playing sandlot football with kids in the neighborhood I suffered a severely sprained ankle. We didn’t have the money to go to a doctor. My mom wrapped it and I literally crawled for three days. At the time I was eight years old. To look back, crawling on that dirt road defined me, helped make me what I am today.


by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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