October 18, 2010
When boiled down to its very essence, one can argue that the Super Bowl itself is a monument to overwrought Americana. For the past two years, that overabundance has been physically represented quite ably in recycled steel produced by a company called Gerdau Ameristeel, which has partnered with Tampa Bay and then Miami to create massive metaphorical structures dedicated to football in the Super Bowl host city. Now the company is planning a similar mega-sculpture for the 2011 Super Bowl in Dallas, and it's making sure that Texas high school football is central to its design.
According to a release from the company, Gerdau plans to use recycled scrap steel from high school facilities around the state, as well as the recycled steel from the prior Cowboys Stadium, to build an enormous monument dedicated to high school football.
The early conceptual model of the monument, which you see at right, depicts a state of Texas with a giant football bursting from the state's center, propped up by an oil derrick. To provide a deeper connection between professional football and the sport's grassroots in Texas, the sculpture -- which officially aims to celebrate Texas' status as the "cradle of professional football" -- will engrave the name of all Texas high school alumni who have ever gone on to play professional football.
In theory, the names won't stop after the first effort, either. Jim Kirkvliet, Gerdau's vice president of sales and marketing, told ESPN.com that the statue will continue to add names of future graduating Texas classes who have members in the NFL. Conceivably, the company could just take a massive list of all the final NFL rosters heading into the 2011 season and add all new Texas-born rookies, then repeat that process each fall.
"We've been working with the Texas High School association to try to make sure to get the names of players who have gone from Texas high schools to the NFL," Kirkvliet told ESPN.com. "Every year when we get a new graduating class, we'll put their names on the plaques. Hopefully this will become kind of an ongoing tradition for years to come. ...
"I'm sure there will be a lot more NFL players that will come from Texas. We might have to put two statues up to cover all the names."
For now, the company is engaged in an effort to identify Texas high school alums who went on to reach the NFL (no word on whether they will also include graduates who reached the AFL, UFL, World League or Arena League), and the structure should be completed in time to stand in Fort Worth's Sundance Square the week before the Super Bowl.
After that, it's hoped the six-ton steel sculpture will become a focal point of Fort Worth for visitors. Given the area's massive high school sports following, that seems almost a fait accompli.