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Every story about Raymond Emmett Berry (PHS Class of 1950) begins about the same. This guy had no business playing high school football much less in the NFL. He was slow, and thin, and he wore special shoes because one leg was shorter than the other. His own father, a local legend as the head coach of the Paris Wildcats wouldn’t even let him start until he was a senior. But that is the basis of what becomes one of the greatest stories ever in pro football.
Young Raymond Berry obsessively ran passing patterns on Wise Field by himself or whenever he could find someone to throw passes to him. He ran focus on running absolutely perfect passing patterns and find any way to get open which according to Berry, he ended up developing 88 different moves.
As a senior in high school, Berry finally got an opportunity to start as an offensive end, and the Wildcat’s undefeated season lead them to a district championship. Determined to further his football career, Berry became a Redshirt Freshman at SMU in 1951 and by the end of his sophomore year at SMU he had only accumulated 50 minutes of college playing time. Only dogged determination and dedication push Berry to finish out his collegiate football career at SMU.
Then the most unlikely event of all happened. In 1954 in the 20th round, the Baltimore Colts selected him. Ever obsessed with running passing patterns, he remained focus ed on running absolutely perfect passing patterns and find any way to get open which according to Berry, he ended up developing 88 different moves to get open. The hard work paid off when in 1956, Johnny Unitas was cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers and picked up as the Colts . The rest is history.
Unitas and Berry became one of the deadliest quarterback/receiver combinations in the history of the NFL. The sure-handed Berry only fumble on football in his 13 year NFL career, and Berry to this minute still graces highlight films in the oclips of the 1958 NFL Championship Game at Yankee Stadium against the Giants in what is now referred to in the Greatest Game Ever Played where he caught 12 catches for 178 yards including a last minute tying touchdown to send the game into overtime.
The highlights include leading the NFL three different seasons in yardage and receptions. He also led the NFL in receptions. By his 10th season he became the all-time leading receiver in the NFL. He was selected to 6 different Pro Bowls and was a member of two world championship teams. In 1973, the very first year of eligibility, Raymond Emmett Barry was elected to the NFL Hall of Fame.
As an amazing footnote, from 1984-1989, Raymond Berry went to lead the New England Patriots as the Head Coach culminating in the first Super Bowl appearance for the New England Patriots.