As the New England Patriots prepare to play in today's Super Bowl game, a Jefferson City man remembers his time with the team fondly.
Don Webb played for the then Boston Patriots from 1961-71. The team was one of the original eight that formed the American Football League (AFL), the league founded by Kansas City Chiefs founder Lamar Hunt.
Born in Jefferson City in 1939, Webb — along with Mel West, who would also play for the Patriots — were the first black athletes to play Jefferson City Jays football in the 1954-55 school year.
Webb was a 24th-round draft pick of the Patriots out of Iowa State. Today's draft goes only seven rounds.
"I was way down the line," he laughed.
Webb was an AFL All-Star selection in 1969 and was selected to the Patriots All-1960s Decade (AFL) Team.
Perhaps Webb's best day as a pro was Dec. 17, 1961, when he returned a blocked punt 20 yards for a touchdown and returned an interception 31 yards for another touchdown, in the Patriots' 41-0 shutout of the San Diego Chargers.
Webb was injured and didn't play in the 1963 season. That happened to be the only season the Patriots went to the AFL Championship Game, which they lost to San Diego.
Going into the 2016 season, Webb still ranked 11th in team history with 21 interceptions, according to Patriots records.
Webb remembers many of the players on those teams, including Nick Bunnoconti, an all-league linebacker who has been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
"They were tough guys," he said. "My foot speed was probably the secret to my longevity. I was the fastest guy on the team."
Webb used the money he earned as a player to help his family back in Jefferson City. When asked if he wished he were able to play for the large salaries players earn today, Webb said he didn't want to go back.
"It was pretty good money for the day, back then," he said. "They were paying out, but they're really paying out now."
At his Jefferson City home, Webb still has many mementos from his time in professional football.
He has a game ball he was given, as well as a picture of the 1969 AFL All-Star team. There's also a photo of Webb with NBA Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlin and mementos from his time at Iowa State, where he played on a team nicknamed "The Dirty Thirty" for playing with muddy uniforms.
"I've just been lucky all my life," Webb said. "It started when I met her," he added, referring to his wife, Joyce.