Panther legends come together to support EIU Athletics

Panther legends come together to support EIU Athletics

CHARLESTON (WCIA) — The four biggest names in Eastern Illinois athletics history headlined the biggest night in Panther sports history, aptly named an “Evening with Champions.”

“We’ve all known each other in one way shape or form,” said Broncos head coach Sean Payton. “I’ve coached Tony, Coach Shanahan has worked with Jimmy, but this is the first time the four of us have ever been together anywhere.”

Payton, Tony Romo, Jimmy Garoppolo and Mike Shanahan were all back in Charleston with 425 of their biggest fans.

“I just know for us it’s very unique, special, it’s hard to get people of this caliber together,” said CBS Sports lead analyst and former Dallas Cowboy Tony Romo. “These guys have done so much, I’m just fortunate enough to be around them and I feel like getting us all here together. The stories that are being told, part of you wishes you could record half of them just because it’s pretty unique, it doesn’t happen all the time.”

The fundraising event was the first of its kind, with $250 tickets selling out in just two days, consisting of a dinner and auction with all proceeds going to the athletic department.

“Just to bring some light to Eastern man,” said Rams quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. “Bringing the four of us back is a unique opportunity, I couldn’t say no to it and just felt like it was the right thing to do. I’ve enjoyed every bit of this weekend, it’s been a blast.”

These multiple-time Super Bowl champions all played quarterback for EIU and shared their stories about the place where their careers began.

“To come back to Eastern and kind of see some of your friends and former teammates and get a chance to get a feel for Eastern, it’s been very enjoyable for the past couple days,” said Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan.

Eastern Illinois has produced seven NFL draft picks, four NFL coaches with three combined Super Bowl wins and two members of the College Football Hall of Fame.

Copyright 2024 Nexstar Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to