CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) — A Cranston high school received a big honor this weekend from the National Football League.
Rhode Island native and Super Bowl Champion Mark van Eeghen returned to his high school, Cranston West, on Friday to present a golden football to the school.
The ceremony was part of a nationwide high school honor roll initiative, recognizing schools that contributed to Super Bowl history.
The former Oakland Raider has two Super Bowl championships and ten years in the NFL under his belt, but he said there’s nothing like Friday night lights.
“Football, for me, was pure at West,” he said.
Behind the Super Bowl bling, van Eeghen has always been modest about his football career.
“My head coach told me before one practice, he said ‘Mark you might want to have a good practice today,’ and I said ‘coach, why have I been dogging it?’ He said ‘no, there are some NFL scouts here’ and I said, ‘why they’re coming to see Tommy?,'” he recalled about a former teammate.
After four years at Colgate University, van Eeghen was drafted by the Raiders – but he always finds himself back where he started.
Friday was special for van Eeghen, as the NFL handed a golden football to West’s coaching staff.
“They took that task of going back and recognizing the high school experience and not just athletics, the high school experience without whose foundation you couldn’t go to college,” he said.
van Eeghen is just one of nearly 3,000 players and head coaches on an active Super Bowl roster being recognized.
Cranston West’s principal, Thomas Barbieri, said he was honored to accept the football.
“I want them to come back into the community and give back the same way Mark did tonight,” he said.
Before the game, van Eeghen gave the Falcons a pep talk, telling them to be present in the moment and enjoy the game of football.