2021 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Fillingane, Barnett, Caughman, Chism, DeBar, Johnson, Seymour, Williams, Jackson (32nd), Simmons (12th), Simmons (13th), Sparks
A CONCURRENT RESOLUTION REMEMBERING THE CAREER OF LEGENDARY COLLEGE AND NFL FOOTBALL PLAYER AND COACH RAY PERKINS FROM PETAL, MISSISSIPPI, AND EXTENDING THE SYMPATHY OF THE LEGISLATURE TO HIS BEREAVED FAMILY.
WHEREAS, we join the college and professional football community and citizens of Petal, Mississippi, in honoring the life and career of Ray Perkins, the former Alabama receiver who replaced Bear Bryant as Crimson Tide's Coach and started the transition with the New York Giants that led to two Super Bowl Titles. Ray passed away on December 9, 2020, at age 79; and
WHEREAS, Ray Perkins left a head coaching job with the NFL's Giants to replace Bear Bryant following the 1982 season. It was a dream job for the former Crimson Tide star receiver. Perkins won three bowl games at Alabama and was 32-15-1, but he also went 5-6 in 1984. It was the program's first losing season since 1957, the year before the school hired Bryant. He also served as Athletic Director during that period; and
WHEREAS, as an NFL Coach, he hired both Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick, and both those pro football masterminds consider Perkins a mentor. As a player, he starred for both Bear Bryant and Don Shula. Bryant called Perkins the best offensive player on two Alabama National Championship Teams. He caught passes from Joe Namath and Snake Stabler in college, and then caught passes from Johnny Unitas and Earl Morrall in the pros. He drafted and coached the great Lawrence Taylor with the New York Giants; and
WHEREAS, an All-America receiver at Alabama in 1966, Perkins played professionally for the Baltimore Colts from 1967-1971; and
WHEREAS, while he had only a 23-34 regular-season mark with the Giants, he started a turnaround for the organization before leaving. In 1981, Perkins led the team to its first postseason berth since 1963. New York upset the defending NFC champion Eagles in the NFC wild-card game before losing in the divisional round to a San Francisco 49ers team that went on to win the Super Bowl. Perkins had been Offensive Coordinator with the San Diego Chargers before joining the Giants. He was then-General Manager George Young's first major hire and the two upgraded the roster and installed discipline; and
WHEREAS, Bill Parcells, the Defensive Coordinator Perkins had hired, led the Giants to five postseason berths, two NFC East titles and two Super Bowl victories in his eight seasons as Coach. "I loved Ray and he was a very close friend of mine," Parcells said. "He's the only reason I was in pro football; he's the one who brought me into the league. He was my friend." Perkins also was the Head Coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1987-1990. He later spent one season leading the Arkansas State program before working as an assistant for several NFL teams; and
WHEREAS, it all started for Perkins at Petal High School or in the service station right across the street. For all his four years of high school, Perkins, a carpenter's son, opened the Sinclair gas station at 6:00 a.m. before he went to school. He also worked on his school lunch break, then he would close the station after he finished practicing whatever sport he was playing late in the afternoon or early evening. Perkins could take a car engine apart and put it back together. Same with transmissions. One problem: More often than not, his clothes were soiled with grease and oil when he went to school, which led to his nickname, "Grease"; and
WHEREAS, in 2010, Perkins was coaching junior high as a volunteer at Presbyterian Christian in Hattiesburg, teaching 13- and 14-year-olds where to line up on defense. He had once coached people such as Lawrence Taylor and Phil Simms, and now he was coaching kids who did not yet shave. "If I can take a couple of hours each day and contribute something to these kids' lives, why shouldn't I"; and
WHEREAS, a few years later Perkins, then in his 70s, came out of retirement and coached Jones Junior College for a couple of seasons. Again, here was a guy who had coached at the highest levels in packed stadiums and on national TV, now coaching before hundreds. Jones went 14-5 over those two seasons, shared the Mississippi Juco South Division title one year, and then won it the next. Perkins seemed to be having more fun then than he had as a Coach for the New York Giants. "This is better, more fun, more rewarding. It's because of these kids. It's because I am watching them grow"; and
WHEREAS, we pay tribute and cherish fondly the memory of a legendary Mississippi sports hero who has brought honor to his sport, his university, his community and to the State of Mississippi:
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CONCURRING THEREIN, That we do hereby remember the career of legendary college and NFL football player and Coach Ray Perkins from Petal, Mississippi, and extend the sympathy of the Legislature to his bereaved family.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That this resolution be forwarded to the surviving family of Ray Perkins and be made available to the Capitol Press Corps.