Lake Highlands High School graduates Merton Hanks and Matt Stover have been nominated again for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Each will be considered, along with 171 other modern-era NFL greats, before the list is reduced to 25 semifinalists in November.
Hanks played football at the University of Iowa, earning all-Big Ten honors at cornerback. He wasn’t drafted until the fifth round by the San Francisco 49ers, yet he was chosen for 4 Pro Bowl and 3 All-Pro teams. His squad won Super Bowl XXIX, and he was named Defensive Back of the Year. But the truth is, he may be best known for his “pigeon dance” celebrations.
You can hear the story behind that dance in the video below.
Stover served as kicker and punter for Louisiana Tech University, where he kicked a 57-yard field goal, then a school record. He spent most of his career as a Baltimore Raven, where he earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. His team won Super Bowl XXXV, and he was inducted into the Ravens Ring of Honor in 2011.
Hanks, Stover and Detron Smith returned to LHHS in 2015 as Wildcat alums who’d received Super Bowl rings. They spoke at a pep rally before the big Berkner game, inspiring the young players to work together and give their best effort.
“If you belittle your kicker or any other player and make him less than one of you, you can’t win. You need to trust one another and build each other up,” Stover told them. “It’s a privilege to play and you never, ever want to take it for granted.”
“When the team wins, everybody wins,” said Hanks. “Everybody looks a little better than they really are, and everybody gets hardware (pointing at his Super Bowl ring).”
You may see the full list of nominees here.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2024 will be enshrined in August 2024.