The list of Super Bowl Champions from Rockford is a short one. Ira Matthews is the only man on it.
Tueday he was back at his alma mater East High School The auditorium stage at East was filled with E-Rabs legends from the school’s football glory days. Jerry Holloway. Gary Giardini. Jerry Stalcup, Jerry Latine, and Matthews.
Matthews was a running back who was one of several gifted athletes that helped East win a State Championship in 1974. But he’s the only E-Rab who has a Super Bowl ring.
He was on the Raiders team that beat the Eagles in Super Bowl 15 in January of 1981. Matthews was one of the top kick returners in the NFL.
“Super Bowl 15 was a long time ago, but the memories you have you always keep with you,” says Matthews who now lives in Houston.
The Raiders had lost a regular season game to the Eagles that season, so the Raiders were considered underdogs in the Super Bowl by just about everyone except themselves.
“We had no doubt that we weren’t going to win that game,” says Matthews.
Jim Plunkett threw three touchdown passes leading the Raiders to a 27-10 win. Matthews returned two punts and two kickoffs in that game.
He says there were no nerves despite the magnitude of the game. “You can’t make it any bigger than any other game. It’s still 11 on 11,” says Matthews. “You do your assignments. No nerves were involved.”
There were no nerves on the stage at East for this event, but lots of emotions. As part of the NFL’s 50th anniversary of the first Super Bowl the league has provided gold colored footballs for all Super Bowl champions to present to their schools. Matthews was honored to present a ball to the school that he loves so much.
“I present this football, which represents the 50th anniversary of Super Bowl 50,” said Matthews as he handed the ball off to Giardini.
“It’s always a great honor to come back. It’s always a pleasure to see my E-Rab family,” said Matthews.
“Once an E-Rab always an E-Rab.”
Ira Matthews..an E-Rab forever and a Super Bowl champion forever.
Note: While Matthews is the only Super Bowl champion from Rockford the Stateline has had two other Super Bowl champions Byron’s Sean Considine and Freeport’s Preston Pearson.