Coleman among inductees for Florida HOF

Greg Coleman

Special to the Outlook

Hall of Fame honors continues for Florida A&M football alums as Greg Coleman was selected for the Class of 2023 Florida Sports Hall of Fame.

Coleman and the seven other inductees represent six different sports, includes an eight-time NBA All-Star, an Olympic gold medalist, a Pro Football Hall of Famer, a two-time Super Bowl winning coach, a two-time World Cup champion and world champion jet car driver. 

The other inductees are LeRoy Butler, football; Vince Carter, basketball; Tom Coughlin – football coach; Ashlyn Harris, soccer;  Jeff Johnson, baseball coach; Elaine Larsen, drag racing; and Shannon Miller, gymnastics.

“Anytime you get recognized for an honor like this, I mean, it’s humbling,” said Coleman, a native of Jacksonville. “Regardless of the body of work you put forward, whether on or off the field, you didn’t do it by yourself.

“To, number one, represent your community, you go all the way back to little league football, baseball, middle school, high school, you know, obviously my years at FAM. I knew what they meant to me, and in the time that I spent in the NFL was great, you know those were great memories.”

Coleman, a former All-American, was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1976 NFL Draft. Though being drafted by the Bengals, Coleman’s first season in the NFL came with the Cleveland Browns in 1977. Coleman went on to spend the next 10 seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, earning the nickname “Coffin Corner” because of his ability to aim his kicks near the corner of the playing field where the end zone and out-of-bounds lines meet. 

During his career, Coleman averaged 40.6 yards per punt with a career-long of 73 yards. Coleman wrapped up his 12-year NFL career following the 1988 season, retiring as a member of the Washington Commanders. He competed in 162 games. 

Coleman was inducted into the FAMU Sports Hall of Fame in 1985 and the Black College Football Hall of Fame in 2021. Coleman was also a member of the Minnesota Vikings 40th Anniversary Team in 2000.

“To be honored in your home city, to bring this ceremony to Duval, it means a lot. I mean, it means that my family, my teammates, close friends, my pastor, my church friends, they all have an opportunity to be a part of this celebration.”

The class will be inducted in a ceremony at the Florida Theatre in Jacksonville on Nov. 8.

“How exciting to be able to recognize such a talented, accomplished and diverse group of athletes,” said Rick Hatcher, President and Chairman of the Florida Sports Hall of Fame board. “Their contributions to their sport, their communities and impacts they’ve had on a worldwide stage make this a remarkable class. We are honored to welcome them as the newest members of the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.”

LeRoy Butler – A three-year starter (1987-89) at Florida State, this Jacksonville native was a first-team All-America selection of AP, UPI and Walter Camp (1989). In 1990, Butler was drafted in the second round (48 overall) of the NFL Draft by the Green Bay Packers. In his 12 seasons with the Packers, Butler was a 4x First-team All-Pro. He recorded a sack in the Packers’ Super Bowl XXXI win over the New England Patriots, and he is recognized as the creator of the Lambeau Leap touchdown celebration. Butler was named a member of the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team and was enshrined in the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame. In 2022, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Vince Carter — Born in Daytona Beach, Vince Carter is an eight-time All-Star and a two-time All-NBA Team selection. He is the only player in NBA history to play 22 seasons and in four different decades, from his debut in 1999 to his retirement in 2020. He has been touted as the greatest dunker of all time. In addition to his dunking prowess, he was a prolific three-point shooter, making the sixth most three-point field goals in league history. He led his Daytona Mainland High School basketball team to its first Class 6A state title in 56 years, and was a 1995 McDonald’s All-American.

Greg Coleman – Known for being one of the first African American punters in the NFL, and one of only a few punters to be drafted, Coleman spent 12 years in the league, playing for the Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings, and Washington. A product of Florida A&M University, Coleman earned the nickname “Coffin Corner” because of his ability to aim his kicks near the corner of the playing field. He was selected by the fans to be a member of the Viking 40th Anniversary team. He is a member of the Florida A&M Football Hall of Fame and is also a member of the State of Florida Track and Field Hall of Fame.

Tom Coughlin – In eight seasons as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars (1995-2002), Coughlin led the most successful expansion team in league history. During his tenure, the Jaguars made four consecutive playoff appearances and appeared in the AFC Championship Game twice — the first in only the second year of the team’s existence (1996). Coughlin would again take the Jaguars to the AFC Championship Game in 1999 after achieving a league-high 14–2 regular season record; the 14 wins stood as the most won by the current wave of expansion teams until the Panthers surpassed it in 2015. Following his stint in Jacksonville, he moved on to lead the New York Giants to victory in Super Bowl XLII and Super Bowl XLVI.

Ashlyn Harris – Born in Cocoa Beach, Harris was a standout for Satellite High School before shooting to stardom as a member of the 2015 and 2019 World Cup Champion teams. In 2016, she was named NWSL Goalkeeper of the Year (her second nod) after making 62 saves and having a 1.33 goals-against-average in 15 games. At 16 years of age, she was the youngest starter on the 2002 FIFA U-19 team, playing every minute as the USA won the 2002 FIFA U-19 Women’s World Cup. Despite being plagued with injuries early in her college career, she won three NCAA Women’s Soccer Championships with the UNC Tar Heels in 2006, 2008 and 2009.

Jeff Johnson – Johnson has built Chipola baseball into one of the premier JUCO programs in the country and compiled an outstanding overall record of 986-460-3 record (.680) over 27 seasons. Johnson led the Indians to their first National Championship in 2007 then repeated the accomplishment with back-to-back National Titles in 2017 and 2018. His teams have won 14 Panhandle Conference Championships and six FCSAA/Region VIII Championships, including three consecutive titles from 2017 to 2019. More than 100 players have been drafted out of Chipola since he became head coach. His programs have produced an impressive 19 MLB players and four MLB All-Stars.

Elaine Larsen – A two-time world champion jet car driver, Larsen is one of only 15 jet dragster pilots and one of only three women in the world. She spent 20 years competing in over 1,400 races. Her top speed of 336 mph in a vehicle with a 5,000 horsepower engine was achieved on an airstrip (as NHRA drag strips limit top speed to 320 mph).  She currently serves as the sole testing driver for Larsen Motorsports, a research center designed to contribute to all high performance vehicles with safety innovations, aerodynamic testing, and material testing located in Palm Bay, FL.

Shannon Miller – Miller is one of the most decorated US gymnasts in Olympic history, with a total of seven medals. She was the 1993 and 1994 world all-around champion, the 1996 Olympic balance beam champion, the 1995 Pan American Games all-around champion, and a member of the gold medal-winning Magnificent Seven team at the 1996 Olympics. With a combined total of 16 World Championships and Olympic medals between 1991 and 1996, she is the second-most decorated American gymnast, male or female. She was also the most successful American athlete at the 1992 Olympics, winning five medals.

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