The young quarterback tossed footballs through tires in his backyard and dreamed of being an NFL star.
This wasn’t a far-fetched notion for Shreveport native Stan Humphries. In northern Louisiana, the parade to pro football at the position had already started.
“They were all around at the time,” Humphries said. “Terry Bradshaw, Joe Ferguson, David Woodley were from that time in northern Louisiana. Right down the road, there was Bert Jones, James “Shack” Harris and Doug Williams. It was a period in time when there were a lot of quarterbacks coming out."
Humphries carried on that tradition. A star at Southwood, he led the former Northeast Louisiana University to the I-AA national title in 1987. He spent 10 seasons in the NFL, notably leading his San Diego Chargers to the Super Bowl.
“You’d hang out in the backyard and pretend you were one of those on a Sunday afternoon,” Humphries said. “Having a chance to be one of those guys – now to have a chance to have your name beside them – it’s unbelievable.”
Because he grew up surrounded by a quarterback legacy, Humphries said he’s never really wondered why north Louisiana has been so fertile. It was simply a way of life.
Even his quarterbacks coach in college, former Neville star Bob Lane, had played professional football in the USFL.
“I was lucky enough to go college in Monroe where they opened it up,” Humphries said. “They threw the ball. That’s why I was able to step into the next level.”
The role models weren’t just names on bubblegum cards for Humphries either.
“Joe Ferguson’s parents lived around the corner from my parents,” Humphries said. “He had come into town one summer to work out. I got invited to go work out with him one day – it was unbelievable.”
Still in high school, Humphries found himself playing pitch-and-catch with NFL players like Ferguson, Pat Tilley, MikeBarber, Larry Anderson and Roger Carr.
“All these unbelievable professional football players of this time,” Humphries said, “and I was out there throwing the football with them.”
Humphries created his own legacy, one of toughness and success. The Chargers won more than 60 percent of the games he started in a six-year stretch. He was capable of producing big numbers, but Humphries didn’t care about statistics.
Victories were his prime concern.
“It’s all about, to me, winning football games,” Humphries said. “It wasn’t about commercials and Pro Bowls. It was about winning football games – fighting with your buddies.”