NEW ORLEANS, La. (WHAS11) – The 79th annual Allstate Sugar Bowl will open with a star-filled coin toss as the University of Louisville and the University of Florida will each be represented on the field by a pair of legends. For Louisville, former football star Tom Jackson and native son Muhammad Ali will join the team captains on the field for the opening toss. Florida will be represented by former football stars Emmitt Smith and Danny Wuerffel.
“It’s a great honor to have such a fine group of men participating in the coin toss for this year’s Allstate Sugar Bowl,” said Jack Laborde, the President of the Sugar Bowl Committee. “Both Louisville and Florida are well represented by these men and their respective accomplishments. Having them involved adds a nice touch to the game and its pageantry.”
This year’s Allstate Sugar Bowl is scheduled to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. (Central) in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and will be televised by ESPN. Tickets are available by calling Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 or by visiting www.AllstateSugarBowl.org.
A two-time Player of the Year in the Missouri Valley Conference (1970 and 1972), Tom Jackson spent three seasons as a linebacker for the Cardinals leading the team in tackles all three campaigns. The Cardinals, coached by Lee Corso, posted a 23-7-2 mark in Jackson’s three seasons as an active player. Jackson was drafted in the fourth round of the 1973 NFL Draft by the Denver Broncos and went on to play 14 standout seasons in the NFL. He is currently a key NFL analyst for ESPN.
Muhammad Ali, a Louisville native, is known by many as “The Greatest of All-Time. After winning a pair of Golden Gloves titles and the light heavyweight gold medal at the 1960 Olympics, Ali went on t a sensational professional career. He won all of his fights in the 1960s, the majority of them by knockout, defeating every top heavyweight in his era, the golden age of heavyweight boxing. In 1999, Ali was crowned as “Sportsman of the Century” by Sports Illustrated and in 2005, he was awarded the Presidential Citizens Medal by President George W. Bush. He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. Since his retirement, Ali has devoted much of his time to philanthropic efforts, including the fight against Parkinson’s disease.
Emmitt Smith, a native of Pensacola, Fla., rewrote the record books in his three seasons at Florida. He started by breaking the school’s 40-year old single-game rushing record in his first full game (224 yards) and went on to break the 1,000-yard mark in the seventh game of his freshman season, the fastest any running back had ever broken that barrier. As a junior, Smith was a unanimous first-team All-American, the SEC Player of the Year and a first-team All-SEC selection (for the third time). Smith was selected in the first round of the 1990 NFL Draft by the Dallas Cowboys and played 14 seasons, setting the NFL record for career rushing yards with 18,355. Smith was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010.
Danny Wuerrfel won the 1996 Heisman Trophy just before leading Florida to a 52-20 victory over Florida State in the 1997 Sugar Bowl, earning the Gators their first national championship. That victory capped an amazing career which included four Southeastern Conference titles as he threw for over 10,000 yards and an SEC-record 114 touchdown passes. Wuerrfel is one of just two Heisman Trophy winners to also win the Draddy Trophy, which is presented annually by the National Football Foundation to the nation’s top football scholar-athlete. After retiring from the NFL, Wuerrfel became very involved with non-profit organizations engaged in Christian mission and charitable work, including the Desire Street Ministries, which focuses on one of the most disadvantaged areas in New Orlean s.
For more information about the Allstate Sugar Bowl please log on to its website www.allstatesugarbowl.org.