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“The Social Justice & Equality – Featuring John Wooten”


John Wooten: A Gridiron Legend from Humble Origins to the Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor

The story of John Wooten is not just one of a legendary NFL player, but a journey from humble beginnings to the pinnacle of football success. Born on December 5, 1936, in Riverview, Texas, Wooten’s early life was marked by modesty and the challenges of a small-town upbringing. Little did the world know that this unassuming young man would evolve into one of the most revered figures in the history of the National Football League.

Wooten’s journey into the world of football began in New Mexico, where he discovered his passion for the game during his high school years at Carlsbad High School in Carlsbad, NM. Despite limited resources and facilities, Wooten’s talent as an offensive lineman quickly became apparent. His dedication and hard work on the field did not go unnoticed, earning him a scholarship to the University of Colorado in 1955.

Entering the collegiate arena, Wooten’s prowess as an offensive guard shone brightly for the Colorado Buffaloes. His physicality, coupled with an innate understanding of the game, made him a standout player. Wooten’s performances were not only instrumental in the team’s success but also garnered individual accolades, leading to his inclusion in the All-Big Seven Conference team.

The pinnacle of Wooten’s college career arrived in 1958 when he was named a consensus All-American, a testament to his excellence as an offensive lineman. This recognition served as a launchpad for his entry into the NFL, as he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the fifth round of the 1959 NFL Draft.

Wooten’s transition to the professional ranks was seamless, and he quickly established himself as a linchpin for the Cleveland Browns. His physical prowess, combined with strategic acumen, made him an integral part of the team’s success. Throughout the 1960s, Wooten’s contributions on the offensive line played a crucial role in the Browns’ victories, earning him consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 1965 to 1967.

Individual success was not enough for Wooten; he sought team triumphs as well. In 1964, he played a pivotal role as the Browns clinched the NFL Championship, showcasing his ability to perform under pressure on the grandest stage. The championship victory added a shining jewel to Wooten’s list of accomplishments and further solidified his status as a football legend.

However, Wooten’s legacy extends beyond the gridiron. In 1967, he demonstrated his commitment to principles beyond football by standing in solidarity with Muhammad Ali during the historic Ali-Cleveland Summit. Ali, a boxing icon, refused to be inducted into the United States Armed Forces on religious and moral grounds, citing opposition to the Vietnam War. Wooten’s support for Ali showcased not only his camaraderie with fellow athletes but also his willingness to take a stand for social justice and individual convictions.

Decades later, in 2010, John Wooten received the ultimate recognition from the Cleveland Browns. The team, acknowledging his monumental contributions to the franchise and the broader football community, inducted him into the Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor. This prestigious honor marked a fitting tribute to a man whose impact on and off the field had left an indelible mark on the team’s history.

In conclusion, John Wooten’s journey from humble beginnings to NFL stardom is a narrative of perseverance, talent, and commitment to excellence. From his early days in Riverview to his enshrinement in the Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor, Wooten’s story is not just about football but about the enduring spirit of a legend whose legacy will forever resonate in the annals of the National Football League.

Encore Kicks L.L.C. wanted to honor and commemorate this special moment in history where John Wooten played a key pivotal role not just in the game of football but more so in the Social Justice & Equality for Civil Rights of African-Americans.


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