Last week at halftime of Jordan’s home basketball game against Long Beach Poly, the Panthers program retired John Ross’ jersey.
The Jordan legend starred there for three years after transferring in, and has already gone on to become one of the most successful Panthers alums in history. Ross earned All-American honors at Washington, then broke the NFL combine record for the 40-yard dash with a 4.22 second clock, which helped boost him into being drafted ninth overall by the Bengals.
“I’m just so grateful for the support,” Ross said in an interview following last week’s ceremony. “Just looking back, not knowing a few years ago that I’d be in this position. To be here and have my family and my son there to witness that, that was a big thing for me.”
In two seasons with the Bengals so far, Ross has played in 16 games and has 21 catches for 210 yards and seven touchdowns. He admitted some surprise at becoming the second player at the school to have his jersey retired, following last year’s John Timu ceremony.
“I’m not a legend like that, so it’s hauge,” he said. “When Timu got his done I was just hoping and praying I’d get mine, but he was really like the whole team for a point in time. I figured guys like Marcus Turner and Johnny Nansen would be before me–for me to get that call it meant a lot. I was just excited and grateful.”
Timu and Ross may still be young, but the duo are two of only five Jordan alums to make it to the NFL, along with Turner, George Timberlake, and Dennis Brown, who was a defensive lineman with the 49ers for seven season and won the 1994 Super Bowl. Nansen was a good player who’s become a well-known coach at USC. Other Jordan legends like Ortege Jenkins are presumably under consideration as well.
For Ross, his plans for the offseason are to continue to work to try and improve on this year’s performance, and to continue his work in the community–he held a free football camp for Long Beach youth last summer. Like most high-profile athletes, Ross will be busy off the field too–the day after his jersey was retired he jetted off to Atlanta for the Super Bowl, where he had a number of promotional appearances scheduled.
“At the ceremony I just told everyone how happy I am for Long Beach and how far we’ve come,” he said. “I’ll do everything in my power to support the city and continue to put us on the map.”