Pair of former Pokes named NFL Award of Excellence recipients
LARAMIE -- A pair of Pokes are bound for Canton.
Former Wyoming head football coach Fritz Shurmur, along with athletic trainer John Omohundro, are two of the 20 initial recipients honored with the Pro Football Hall of Fame's inaugural Awards of Excellence.
The winners will be honored during the 2022 enshrinement and their names will forever be on display in the Hall of Fame museum in northeast Ohio.
"You know, he wasn't in this business for honors or awards," said Peggy Jane Shurmur, wife of the late coach who died in 1999 at the age of 67. "The whole family is thrilled with the honor and it's a wonderful recognition for him."
Shurmur was an assistant under Lloyd Eaton in Laramie from 1962-70 before taking the reins of the program in 1971. The defensive-minded Michigan native led the Cowboys for four seasons, compiling an overall record of 15-29 during a turbulent time at Wyoming in the wake of the Black 14 scandal.
During Shurmur's tenure on the high plains, the Cowboys won a Sun Bowl title in 1966, knocking off Florida State 28-20 in El Paso. The program reached its greatest heights the following year, squaring off with LSU in the Sugar Bowl. Though UW would fall on that muddy afternoon in New Orleans, it would finish the season ranked No. 6 in the AP Poll.
The biggest win in Shurmur's head-coaching career came against 11th-ranked Arizona State in 1972. The Cowboys, led by quarterback Steve Cockreham, Aaron Kyle, Charles Shaw, and others, stunned Danny White's Fiesta-Bowl bound Sun Devils in Laramie, 45-43.
Shurmur moved on to the NFL in 1975 and had stints in Detroit, New England Los Angeles (Rams), Phoenix and eventually Green Bay, where he helped lead the Packers to a Super Bowl XXXI championship with one of the top defenses in football.
Known for his innovative defensive schemes, Shurmur coached in the NFL for 24 seasons. That 1997 championship team allowed the fewest touchdown passes in the modern era with just 10.
Omohundro, a Wyoming graduate, started his career at his alma mater before taking the head trainer job with the then-St. Louis Cardinals in 1971. He spent 42 years in the Cardinals organization, working nearly 900 games until his retirement in 2009, the same season Arizona played in Super Bowl XLII.
Pro Football Hall of Fame's Awards of Excellence was formed to recognize impactful people around the league, including assistants, trainers, equipment managers, public relations personnel and others.
The other inaugural recipients are: Alex Gibbs, Jimmy Raye, Terry Robiskie, Ernie Zampese, George Anderson, Otho Davis, Jerry Rhea, Fred Zamberletti, Sid Brooks, Ed Carroll, Tony Parisi, Dan "Chief" Simmons, Whitey Zimmerman, Joe Browne, Charlie Dayton, Joe Gordon, Jim Saccomano and Gary Wright.
The Hall of Fame Class of 2022 will be enshrined on Saturday, Aug. 6 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
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