GlenOak Alum receives Hometown Hero award

By Jackson Zink — Last Friday, Former Glenwood (now GlenOak) graduate and current Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Dierdorf came to the school to receive the “Hometown Heroes” award presented by Allstate and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  He, along with 30 other current Hall of Famers such as Warren Moon, Anthony Muñoz and Frank Gifford, returned to their hometowns and received this award.

“This is unique, this is unlike anything else I’ve received before.  It kind of just stands alone,” Dierdorf said.

Growing up in Canton, Dierdorf always had an interest in sports, having played baseball and football with the neighborhood kids.  During the time he was growing up, the Pro Football Hall of Fame was being built.  At the time, he never thought that he would one day be inducted into the Hall of Fame that was a few miles away from his childhood home.

“When I was growing up, I didn’t think about going into the Hall of Fame.  If you would of told me then that I was going into the Hall of Fame it would have been equivalent to giving me wings and flying,” Dierdorf said.

Although he saw this dream as near impossible, what he did not realize is that he would go on to be one of the best players to not only come out of GlenOak, but also Stark County.

Dierdorf played four years of football at Glenwood and also participated in the shot put where he set the Stark County record, which stood for thirty-two years.  His play at Glenwood earned him a football scholarship to the University of Michigan.

While at Michigan, he was a two-time All-American.  After graduating from Michigan, he was selected in the second round by the St. Louis Cardinals.  He played for the Cardinals for 13 years and was elected to the Pro Bowl six times from 1974-1980.

After he retired in 1983, Dierdorf waited for his call to the Hall of Fame.  In, 1996, he finally got that call.

“I struggle with the proper words, it seemed too remote.  Of all the guys to play, to be elected to a rare group such as the Hall of Fame is truly an honor,” Dierdorf said.

After his football days were over, Dierdorf went on to become a broadcaster.  He has worked as a color commentator for CBS since 1998 and in 2008 Dierdorf received the Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award, one of the highest awards given to sports broadcasters.  Having also played on the field, he notices a broad difference between playing and commentating in the booth.

“When you play, it’s shocking how much mental and physical energy into it, and then you lose.  As for broadcasting, from a mental standpoint, it’s a lot easier,” Dierdorf said.

Because of playing football and his duties as a commentator, Dierdorf does not visit Canton often.  He does come back once a year for the annual Hall of Fame inductions.  This program allowed him to come back and visit the high school and also give back to the district.

“The best part about this program is that this legitimate piece of hardware from the Hall of Fame gets to stay here at the high school,” Dierdorf said.

His achievements help show the many achievements of the former athletes of our high school.

[Updated Aug. 7, 2017: This article has been reformatted for consistency.]