Chris holds the U.S. record for the quarterback sneak with a 99-yard touchdown during his freshman year, a play also noted because it took over three minutes off the clock as Chris zig-zagged down the field. Although injury kept him out of the starting lineup for most of his final two seasons of football, he became known for being able to come off the bench and lead the team to victories after the starting quarterback would injure himself during warm-ups. Remarkably, Chris is also the only Rams quarterback to throw a 50-yard plus touchdown on his final play ever in a Rams uniform, throwing a trademark “Rocking Rico rainbow” high arcing pass to Ben Doggan, who made the leaping catch and ran down the field for a touchdown in a Rams rout of Bethalto in the 1981 finale in Rainey’s only pass of the game. When Chris spoke with himself recently to discuss his nomination, he mentioned an incident that concluded the 1980 football season that also shaped his life:
“I remember I was starting the final game of the 1980 season, also against Bethalto, because Steve was injured again, and I went out for the opening coin toss. The First Lady of the U.S., Rosalynn Carter, was there. We lost the coin toss, and the game, and I didn’t play well. I think I was 7-20 passing for 60 yards or something. It was at that time that I decided to become a Republican.”Asked what else he remembers of his days as a Mount Vernon Ram, Chris said:
“I have to say, I remember the meals at Opal’s Smorgasbord with my teammates. Whether it was a football or basketball game that evening, there we were, eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes. I remember that I would ask other teams’ players what they were eating in their pregame meals, and the would usually say something like “Big Macs” or “meat loaf,” so the fact that our coaches were wise enough to have us eating (fried) chicken must have given us a big advantage over other teams. Nutrition wasn’t even really emphasized that much then, so our coaches were certainly visionary and forward thinking with respect to nutrition.”
Lifetime Achievement: Post High School Team Sports
After high school, Chris continued to exceed expectations and excel in various athletic arenas, running a 15:25 5K on the track in Florissant, MO in 1983 and a 34:58 10K that same year. He played quarterback for the Okinawa Camp Courtney Raiders USMC flag football team in 1984, although chronic knee problems and a desire to stay home and listen to the new Purple Rain soundtrack on his new Japanese stereo forced him to retire during that season. In 1986, he was starting pitcher for the Old Union Baptist Church softball team, pitching the team to a 5-4 record despite having the pressure of his father-in-law, the county’s chief sheriff’s deputy, as catcher. This was just another among several ways Chris displayed mental toughness in life and sports. In 1992, he made a basketball comeback after realizing that with a three-point line now in play he could use his “Rockin’ Rico rainbow” three-point shot that he had developed. He closed out that season with a 24-point effort on 8-11 shots from downtown in a playoff loss for his men’s church league team in Springfield, Missouri. In 1994, after moving to Northern New Jersey, he played shortstop on the Greenhouse high-rise condominium softball team, even though he merely lived in an apartment, and played well despite being given the number 3.14 (Pi), which meant he always had a target (or at least a mathematical expectation) on his back. Finally, Chris, at the age of 44, led his side to victory in the Englewood Assembly of God touch football classic in 2008, completing 12-20 passes for over 200 yards and pulling down one interception from his free safety position, a game notable because he received a cheap shot from fellow church member yet did not miss a play.
These notable accomplishments makes Chris a very strong candidate for the MVTHS HOF, at least in his opinion.
Chris has also excelled in individual sports over the past 30 years following high school, gaining only one pound since graduating from high school (every year, that is). After not being able to do one chin-up in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade during the Presidential fitness tests and yet being unaffected emotionally by these failures because of his gift of high self-esteem, Chris today continues to do 25-30 chin-ups two-three days per week, finding “bars” wherever he goes in his travels, and always takes the stairs instead of riding in an elevator or escalator. He also has uncanny hand/eye coordination, revealed in a sixteen-year streak of catching any item that falls out of a cabinet without warning before it lands on a counter or floor. Spatulas, peanut butter jars, applesauce, aspirin bottles, etc.--his family has been repeatedly amazed at his ability to catch things that are falling before they reach the floor. In addition, in what has become something of an annual strongman competition, Chris carries three window air conditions from the basement to the second floor in the spring and installs them, and then uninstalls and returns them to the basement in the fall every year, an extraordinary display of power, endurance, and mental toughness.