Payton Says `Legacy' Title Reunion will Bring Cheer, Tears

Updated 5 years ago Special to HNN Provided by Herd Zone
Payton Says `Legacy' Title Reunion will Bring Cheer, Tears

HUNTINGTON – This used to be Payton’s Place. This weekend, it will be that again. Michael Payton headed here from his Harrisburg, Pa.-area home today, looking forward to the 20th anniversary reunion this weekend of Marshall’s 1992 NCAA Division I-AA football championship team.

And 20 years later, in one way, he’s not much different.

He was No. 14, the Thundering Herd’s starting – and star – quarterback then. Now, he’s still showing the way, whether it’s in his disadvantaged-youth social services job in Dauphin County, Pa., or as coach of the Linglestown Colts, who went undefeated and won the Catholic Football Association’s Midget League Super Bowl last season.

“I got back to Marshall for two or three games last year, but my weekends now are tied up working with the kids,” Payton said Thursday. “It’s going to be great to see everyone again. Some of us from that team keep in touch on Facebook and message back and forth.

“Troy Brown and I keep in touch on a pretty much regular basis. Troy and I are good friends. He tells me that I made him the player he was, helped him get where he did (the NFL; Brown is now a New England Patriots Hall of Famer). He’s always done that. I tell him, ‘No, you did that on your own.’”

Payton, 42, remains a nominee for the College Football Hall of Fame. He is on the Mount Rushmore of Herd quarterbacks … Payton, Pennington, Leftwich … and talk about starting an argument, trying to pick a fourth.

He was a junior in 1991 when the Herd lost a 17-3 lead and fell 25-17 to Jim Tressel-coached Youngstown State for the I-AA title in Statesboro, Ga. The first of getting back to the title game and winning could have been rooted in that loss, but Payton says for him, that wasn’t the case.

“I don’t think it was,” he said. “If you think about it, we lost the lead (to the Penguins) in the ’92 game, too, so it was almost a repeat performance, and that wouldn’t have been good. I think it was something else that drove us.

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