Commentary

Clayborn's Red River homecoming

Former Longhorn and Fort Worth native remembers returning for the rivalry

Updated: October 5, 2011, 10:01 AM ET
By Carter Strickland | HornsNation

AUSTIN, Texas -- The Texas Longhorns have 18 players currently on their roster from the Dallas area. And this area will always be well-represented by players on both sides of the Red River Rivalry.

For one former Longhorn, it's a play he didn't make at the Cotton Bowl that sticks with him 37 years later.

[+] EnlargeRaymond Clayborn
Manny Rubio/US PresswireRaymond Clayborn played 15 seasons in the NFL, but fondly remembers his play for Texas in the Red River Rivalry.
"They were putting it on us pretty good and I was on the sideline just saying, 'I can't wait to get in there and do something,'" Raymond Clayborn said.

This was the game the Fort Worth native and Trimble High School player had always wanted to be a part of while growing up in the Metroplex. And there he was, a freshman, soon to be tapped to go in for a kick return.

"I almost broke one too," the former Texas player said. "The kicker just got me."

In the end Clayborn's return didn't matter. The Sooners ran away with the 1973 game. But the feeling of being on the floor of the Cotton Bowl has never left Clayborn.

"It's just something you never forget," he said. "The fans, the bands, everything, just the pandemonium & I equate it to when I played in the Super Bowl."

Clayborn did go on to a 15-year NFL career and play in Super Bowl XX with the New England Patriots. But it's the annual showdown with the Sooners that holds so many memories for him and those closest to him.

"That was when most people got to see me play," he said. "They couldn't always get down to Austin. But they could get to the fair and get to the game."

For years, plenty of Metroplex family and friends have been going to the Cotton Bowl to see their local heroes. From Doug English to Hodges Mitchell to current Longhorn Sam Acho, the history of Texas players coming home is long and storied.

"It's always been a great area for high school football," said Clayborn, who now resides in Houston.

Of course, Oklahoma has always known that too. Even back in Clayborn's day, Chuck Fairbanks was hard after him to come to Oklahoma. Clayborn declined. But the Sooners were eventually able to pull Horace Ivory out of Nolan Catholic after a transfer from Notre Dame and junior college stint.

"He got a hold of us a time or two," Clayborn said of Ivory.

But it was Clayborn and Texas who finally held Ivory in check. In the 1976 game, Clayborn's last chance, Texas and Clayborn held Ivory and Oklahoma to 95 rushing yards and a 6-6 tie.

"After playing in that game and going to that game, you look back on it and the atmosphere and everything, with it being in Dallas, it's just something special," Clayborn said. "It's just a great rivalry and I'm glad I was a part of all of it."

Carter Strickland | email

Reporter, HornsNation

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