Mississippi produces more NFL players per capita than any other state, and it’s not really that close.A new, thorough study confirms what I have long contended to be true. That is, the Magnolia State, relatively small and poor in so many ways, kicks tail when it comes to producing football talent.
The research was done by Sidelines, a sports technology and digital media company, which also found that Texas has produced the most NFL players (2,515) of any state. But the Texas total computes to only 8.5 players per 100,000, about one-third of what Mississippi has produced.
It’s not just quantity we’re talking about either. It’s quality, as well. The NFL’s all-time leading receiver and touchdown scorer is Jerry Rice, from Crawford and Mississippi Valley State. Walter Payton, from Columbia and Jackson State, is the NFL’s second all-time leading rusher.
And that Mississippi number doesn’t count such NFL legends as Ray Guy, Robert Brazile and Gene Hickerson, who played their college ball in Mississippi after growing up in nearby states. It also doesn’t count, for instance, a player such as Peyton Manning whose roots are firmly in Mississippi soil and who spent much of his childhood in the Magnolia State.
Another amazing fact: Jackson State, alone, has produced four Hall of Famers, three of them native Mississippians. That’s as many Pro Football Hall of Famers as both Florida State and Georgia have and twice as many as Auburn, Ole Miss and Southern Miss have produced.
Meanwhile, the Magnolia State has plenty to celebrate when it comes to football — or writers and entertainers, for that matter. We just don’t have available stats on the authors and musicians.