Lee is a really good gift-giver (unlike some of my failures, like this bad move I made last year). He’s very generous when he’s gifting and he really likes the element of surprise. He pulled off a good one in December with a well-timed stop in Kansas City as we were driving to Columbia to see friends and family for Christmas.
He told me we had a stop to make but I thought we were just dropping in at a store that had something he couldn’t find in Wichita, instead it was a stop to get an in-person autograph from Corby Jones.
Corby was Missouri’s starting quarterback in 1997 and 1998 and is one of my all-time favorite Tigers for a couple of reasons — we attended the same high school (Hickman High School), he chose to stay home and play for the Tigers when Nebraska was recruiting him to replace Tommie Frazier, he snapped a long streak of losing seasons and he was just a really nice guy.
Look, I don’t analyze statistics like Lee or most other sports fanatics do — my analysis is with my heart not a calculator.
Records of 7-5 and 8-4 don’t jump out as stellar seasons unless you put them into context — before Corby led Mizzou to that 7-5 record in 1997, we had suffered through 13 losing seasons. That losing streak pretty much spanned the time in my life when I paid attention to what was going on with Missouri sports (1984-1997, which were ages 13 through 26 for me!).
Corby made watching Missouri football fun for me to watch for the first time in my life. (Anyone remember the game at Faurot against No. 1-ranked Nebraska that went to overtime because of a miraculous kicked ball in the end zone?!? We ended up losing 45-38 in OT.) It doesn’t hurt, either, that Corby’s timing coincided with me moving to enemy territory (Kansas) and getting out of sportwriting … so I finally found my voice as a Tiger fan. (I’m sure it’s hard for some of you who’ve only known me for the past decade or so to believe, but it took me quite awhile to convert from being a reporter to being an outspoken Mizzou fan!)
Corby’s father was a former Tiger and when he returned to Mizzou to coach under Bob Stull, Corby also moved to Columbia and finished out his high school career at Hickman. He chose Missouri over powerhouses like Nebraska, and in my opinion he paved the way for Mizzou to start landing some of the better in-state talent and for out-of-state quarterbacks like Brad Smith and Chase Daniel to come play at MU.
Since his playing days, Corby got a law degree from Mizzou and is now practicing in Kansas City. It was fun to talk to him for a few minutes and, as I remembered from interviewing him during his high school days, he was very gracious.
So below is a photo of where the helmet signed by Corby lives. It’s one of the new design helmets, which I’m glad Lee went with. It’s next to the old style block M helmet, which I got signed by running back Brock Olivo several years ago.
Thanks for great memories, Corby … and thanks for the great gift, Lee!