Kordell Stewart Football Combine culmination of dream _lowres

Advocate photo by KYLE ENCAR --Former NFL quarterback, Kordell Stewar, speaks to participants in the Kordell Stewart Football Combine on Saturday, at Hoss Memtsas Stadium.

Kordell Stewart’s journey began in Marrero as a star quarterback at John Ehret High School.

From there, he went on to throw one of the most famous passes in college football history before moving on to becoming one of the most versatile players in NFL history.

He’s played in a Super Bowl and been an analyst on ESPN.

But despite all of that, one of his proudest accomplishments came Saturday as he held the first Kordell Stewart Football Combine at Hoss Memtsas Stadium.

“This completes things as far as everything I wanted to do,” Stewart said. “I have been wanting to come back and do this for some time.”

Stewart led over 100 kids in various drills Saturday as part of the combine for kids ranging from the fourth grade through seniors in high school.

“It’s only going to get better,” Stewart said. “It’s good for the community to see this home guy, a public school guy, come back and give to the community.

“It’s a great thing for all the kids, not just at John Ehret, but for all the kids on the West Bank to experience this. I didn’t get this chance coming up.”

Stewart credits Kim Coleman, along with Ehret coach Corey Lambert and his wife Jenny and all of the parents for making Saturday’s combine a success.

Caron Baham, who will be a junior quarterback at Ehret this fall, was one of the participants Saturday. He says the combine helped him improve his technique in the 40-yard dash and the broad jump.

“It means a lot to us because a lot of people barely come back and give back,” Baham said. “So this is special to the kids and to the program. So we’re glad to see him come back.”

Baham isn’t quite old enough to remember Stewart’s playing days, but he has heard about the accomplishments of the 1991 Ehret graduate.

Like how Stewart went on to rewrite the record books at Colorado. Stewart’s most notable play came in 1994 when he threw a 74-yard Hail Mary to Michael Westbrook to beat Michigan.

After being drafted by the Pittsburgh Steelers, he played as a receiver and backup quarterback in Super Bowl XXX. He spent 11 seasons in the NFL and was named to a Pro Bowl. His ability to play multiple positions earned him the nickname Slash, which may explain why he was named the No. 6 Most Versatile Player in league history by the NFL Network.

But Stewart didn’t want Saturday to be about his accomplishments.

“This is something the kids love and want and they feel good about being a part of it,” Stewart said. “It gives them the recognition they deserve. I’m just a piece of the pie to open the doors to give them the opportunities. It’s gratifying to see them with the (combine) T-shirts on. This isn’t about me, but about the kids.”

But for Stewart, it always has been about the kids.

He has donated money to buy new backboards for basketball goals and scoreboards at a local park.

In addition, he bought Ehret new football equipment, including the New England Patriots’ style uniform the team has worn in recent years and helped with renovations to the weight room.

He donated over $40,000 for two new sets of uniforms to be worn beginning this season.

But none of the new jerseys will be No. 10.

Ehret coach Corey Lambert announced Saturday that No. 10, the number that Stewart wore in his high school playing days, would be retired. Lambert, who followed Stewart as quarterback at Ehret in the early ’90s, also wore No. 10.

“I thought it was long overdue for us to retire his number for what he has done not only for this football program, but the legacy he has left,” Lambert said. “He is a true icon to represent Marrero and John Ehret High.”

Saturday’s activities are all part of an always hectic schedule for Stewart.

He’ll attend Warrick Dunn’s Golf Tournament in Atlanta on Monday and later this month will take part in Buffs4Life, a charity at Colorado set up to help former players. He also hosts a radio show. In addition, he’s a single dad raising his 11-year-old son Syre in Atlanta.

But Saturday’s first camp will always be special to Stewart.

“I’m from Marrero,” Stewart said. “I didn’t get a chance to have something of this magnitude when I was coming up. So this is gratifying. It makes you feel good. Especially as a citizen of this community, being able to give back.

“I hope that the word gets around that they have a good time, and we can have even more kids next year. Because this is for them, not for me.”