The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Other Sports

July 21, 2013

Mount Hope’s Warwick recalls legendary career

BECKLEY — Football. It’s a man’s game. It’s a tough man’s game. Where broken bones, blood and sweat aren’t signs of weakness; they’re signs of a job well done.

Of those who have made a living on the gridiron, few are tougher than Mount Hope’s Lonnie Warwick.

The Mt. Hope native, who spent 15 years in the National Football League, 10 with the Minnesota Vikings, three with the Atlanta Falcons and two with the Washington Redskins, was among the figures at the fifth annual Sports Legends Reunion on Friday at the Beckley Moose Club.

“It’s a pleasure to be here,” Warwick said. “You see these guys around this room here and remember when we were playing in high school. There are some here that were before me and some afterwards, but man, you just look at them and you think... I believe a lot of these guys could play today!”

The 71-year-old Warwick was honored in May for his time at Mt. Hope High School with an induction into the West Virginia North-South Football Hall of Fame, during the North-South Football weekend in Charleston.

“It was a really nice event down there,” Warwick said. “I got to see a lot of the old friends that I knew. It was a good weekend for me.”

Warwick was quick to recall his favorite memory from his time in high school. It was the 1959 state championship, when the Mustangs and the Mullens Rebels did battle at Van Meter Stadium. The muddy conditions, and staunch defense left the two teams tied 0-0 at the end of the game to crown the two now defunct schools co-champions.

“If they can’t score, they can’t beat ya,” Warwick said. “You’ve got to score to beat them. That’s the way it is.”

It was that defensive effort that helped Warwick continue his career at the University of Tennessee and Tennessee Tech before heading to the NFL to help make up the feared “Purple People Eaters” of the Minnesota Vikings.

“That was also our saying with the Purple People Eaters of the Vikings,” he added. “If they can’t score on ya, they can’t beat ya. That’s defense.”

Warwick was part of a Vikings team in 1970 that played in Super Bowl IV, a 23-7 losing effort to the Kansas City Chiefs, but a memory that Warwick carries with him everywhere he goes.

“Those guys like Dick Butkus and Gale Sayers, a lot of those guys never played in the Super Bowl,” Warwick said. “A guy coming from Mount  Hope, West Virginia, and getting him a college degree and playing in the Super Bowl was a great experience.”

Warwick also recalled the toughest player he ever played against as the Green Bay Packer great and NFL Hall of Famer Jimmy Taylor, but said the best were Sayers and Cleveland Brown superstar Jim Brown.

“Both of those guys were unreal,” Warwick said. “They were really hard to tackle. Jim Brown was 6-foot-3, 230 lbs and ran a 4.4 40. I mean, that was just tremendous. But of course he had already played 10 years when I got to play against him. There were a lot of tough guys back then.”

It’s a different league now, though. Players are fined and penalized for the type of play that made Warwick famous.

“I probably wouldn’t even draw a paycheck now with the way the rules have changed,” a wide-eyed Warwick said with a smile. “But I still enjoy it. If I had to do it over, I’d do the same thing.”

And just as any old pro, Warwick still tunes in on Sundays to check in on his former teams, and admits to being impressed with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, but there’s another quarterback who has caught his attention — one that plays for his former team.

“Ya know, with a guy like Robert Griffin III, who can run and throw the ball really good, that puts the pressure on the defense,” Warwick said. “He’s really fun to watch. That’s enjoyable to me.”

The pros are the only football catching the eye of the legendary Warwick. He also spends a lot of time watching area high school football and offers his advice to the next generation of area football legends.

“The number one thing that I think could help these high school kids now is speed,” he said. “You have to have really good speed. If you can run a 4.5 40, somebody will take a look at you in the big times.”

Warwick mentioned one player in particular as having what it takes to make it.

“I watch Oak Hill a lot since Mt. Hope closed, and Jaylon Jones could be a really, really good player,” he said. “He’s fast. Real fast. And if he keeps his nose clean and gets a little more experience he’s going to do really well and go far.”

— E-mail: and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.

Text Only
Other Sports
  • graham Less fanfare, but plenty of noise on day 3

    There wasn’t quite the fanfare Sunday morning at the New Orleans Saints new $30 million practice facility at The Greenbrier as there was the day before, when more than 5,000 fans turned out to have a picnic with the NFL stars.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • coaches Picking up some pointers

    West Virginia University football coaches took in New Orleans Saints practice Sunday.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Conn job: RHP impressive in Miners’ win over Paints

    Trevor Conn had not started a game for the West Virginia Miners before Sunday.

    July 28, 2014

  • ingram Saints show their appreciation

    New Orleans Saints players and coaches went about a businesslike practice session Saturday afternoon in White Sulphur Springs.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Some books for the rest of summer

    Stretching out in a hammock with a good book is a great way to relax on a warm summer afternoon. Here are a few titles that have recently caught my eye.

    July 27, 2014

  • graham Fans enjoy their chance to interact with team

    Lois and Jeff Price have something else to brag about. The native southern West Virginians, now residents of Frederick, Md., were enjoying life on Saturday at The Greenbrier resort, new home of the New Orleans Saints training camp, during fan appreciation day.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Creating a week to remember

    After my traveling shoes were placed neatly beside the door, it was time to spend some much needed time around home.

    July 27, 2014

  • Weather willing, Miners host Paints today

    With the West Virginia Miners fighting for their playoff lives, fans have only two more chances to see their team in the regular season.

    July 27, 2014

  • There are some changes on the way

    Hunters who have found themselves driving out of their way to check in a deer, turkey, or bear will no longer have to waste the time or gas starting in 2015. 

    July 27, 2014

  • Mayor gives his thoughts on current state of Beckley sports

    Whether it was courtside at King Coal Beckley Auto Mall Arena — then known as the Armory — or high in the press box overlooking Van Meter Stadium, Bill O’Brien has seen his share of Beckley sports.

    July 27, 2014

Saints Training Camp

AP Video
Kerry: Humanitarian Cease-fire Efforts Continue Raw: Corruption Trial Begins for Former Va Gov. The Carbon Trap: US Exports Global Warming UN Security Council Calls for Gaza Cease-fire Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating 13 Struck by Lightning on Calif. Beach Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted Israel, Hamas Trade Fire Despite Truce in Gaza Italy's Nibali Set to Win First Tour De France Raw: Shipwrecked Concordia Completes Last Voyage Raw: Sea Turtle Hatchlings Emerge From Nest Raw: Massive Dust Storm Covers Phoenix 12-hour Cease-fire in Gaza Fighting Begins Raw: Bolivian Dancers Attempt to Break Record Raw: Israel, Palestine Supporters Rally in US Raw: Air Algerie Flight 5017 Wreckage Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath Judge Faces Heat Over Offer to Help Migrant Kids Kangaroo Goes Missing in Oklahoma More M17 Bodies Return, Sanctions on Russia Grow
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide