The community of Groveton, with a population just over 1,000, can now claim they are home to a Super Bowl-winning right tackle.
In the small town, many of the residents are life-long Cowboys fans. Those fans have had their loyalty tested, but they have no problem cheering for the Philadelphia Eagles since their own Lane Johnson plays for the team. Super Bowl 52 was the talk of the town Monday, after the Eagles defeated the New England Patriots 41-33 Sunday night.
"Oh Lord it was hard [to root for Philadelphia]," said Trinity County Commissioner Tiger Worsham. "Any Cowboys fans will tell you they are an Eagles hater. I told Lane that when he got drafted that I wished any other team had drafted him. Being a Cowboys fan, it is tough, but I truly did pull for the Eagles yesterday."
It would be hard to find anyone in the community that did not watch the game.
"I watched the entire game, said Groveton play-by-play announcer Benny McClain. "I zeroed in on him and he played an excellent football game I thought on his side. He didn't let anybody get by him, and it was a good ball game."
Groveton has always taken pride in having a strong football program. The town is home to the late Rodney Thomas. Thomas played for the Indians in the 90s before heading off to Texas A&M and then to the NFL. Thomas was part of the Tennessee Titans team that played in Super Bowl 34. Thomas and the Titans would lose a thriller to the St. Louis Rams.
It took the town 18 more years to see one of their own on the worldwide stage when Johnson ran onto the field in Minneapolis Sunday night.
"Both Rodney and Lane are unique," Worsham said. "Not only are they good athletes that good things happen to like winning a Super Bowl and getting a ring. They are a good people, and you cannot say that about all the athletes. "
Looking back on his high school career that saw Johnson lead a successful football team, participate in a state relay team on the track, and graduate as valedictorian, it is hard to picture their hometown hero in the big game.
"There's no way that you could say that was Lane Johnson," Worsham said. "He was just a scrawny, little long-legged boy. Of course, when he got into college and the NFL, they made him into the guy he is now. "
The Eagles are planning a victory parade in Philadelphia on Thursday where Lane is expected to attend. His hometown is hoping for a visit soon by their friend so they can give him a proper celebration.
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