THOMASVILLE, N.C. -- Ledford High School welcomed home a former Carolina Panthers player who returned to his old stomping grounds to honor the community that supported him through his football playing days.
Brad Hoover presented the school with a golden football. The National Football League gives a ball to every Super Bowl participant so that he can, in turn, hand it off to his high school.
The ball was presented during halftime of the Ledford-Central Davidson boys’ basketball game Friday. Ledford won the game.
Hoover said returning to the school gave him a proud but odd feeling.
“Probably the most inspirational person in my life was my high school football coach,” said Hoover. “He's retired but he still helps out and substitute teaches here -- and so to be back on campus and to be doing stuff like this is an honor for me.”
Hoover spent 10 years in the NFL after being undrafted coming out of Western Carolina University. He caught on with the Panthers and never played for another team.
“My whole story is about determination and grit,” said Hoover. “I've been told my whole life you're not big enough or fast enough to do this and that -- I've only used it as motivation to prove them wrong and hopefully that inspires some other young man or lady to go out and obtain their dreams and not let anybody tell them that they can't.”
Hoover’s mother, Kathy, was also at the game. She said she retired the day her son did. Mother Hoover said she attended countless games over Hoover’s prep, college and pro career and nothing compares the feeling of a Super Bowl game because of the excitement generated by the crowd.
Her son said if he could give current players any advice it would be to relax and try and enjoy the moment.