Stuart Honors Alum, NFL Star Garner, Retires Jersey in Halftime Ceremony

October 21, 2009 11:39 PM0 comments

In celebration of the school’s 50th anniversary, J.E.B. Stuart High honored former NFL running back and school alum Charlie Garner during halftime of the Stuart-Yorktown football game last Friday, Oct. 16. 013

In celebration of the school’s 50th anniversary, J.E.B. Stuart High honored former NFL running back and school alum Charlie Garner during halftime of the Stuart-Yorktown football game last Friday, Oct. 16.

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CHARLIE GARNER, former NFL player and Stuart grad, holds up the jersey he once donned as a Stuart Raider. He is joined by Stuart’s principal, Pamela Jones. (Photo: News-Press)

Stuart lost the game 34-19.

Those in attendance moved from their bleacher seats to gather along the fence between the stands and the field to watch as Garner’s number 30 was officially retired. Stuart Principal Pamela Jones revealed a framed number 30 Raiders home jersey that will be displayed in the school’s gym, and presented Garner and his family with a commemorative plaque and photograph to remember his illustrious high school career.

Despite a continuous downpour that made conditions on the field and in the stands downright nasty, the loyal Stuart fans didn’t let the weather put a damper on the evening, staying enthusiastic throughout the ceremony and the game.

Garner, who currently lives in Tampa, Fla., said he is not used to cold rain, but appreciated how passionate the crowd was despite the circumstances.

“It’s a tremendous responsibility and it’s also a tremendous honor,” he said on being recognized at the 50th anniversary celebration. “It was an honor coming back, seeing all the guys I played with and rekindling some old relationships. And it’s great being back at school.”

Garner was the obvious choice as the guest of honor, given his impressive football career not only in high school, but in college at the University of Tennessee and in the NFL, where he played for the Philadelphia Eagles, the San Francisco 49ers, the Oakland Raiders and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He set records rushing for over 2,000 yards and 38 touchdowns in his senior season at Stuart. That year, he was also named first-team All-State, first-team All-Metropolitan, and Virginia’s player of the year.

Garner was a dominant running back for Scottsdale Community College and the University of Tennessee before being drafted in the second round of the 1994 NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles. He played five seasons with Philadelphia before going to San Francisco for two, Oakland for three and Tampa Bay for one more.

His football success continued in the NFL, where he quickly made a name for himself as one of the most versatile players in the league. Garner was an explosive runner during his 11-year career, and was later voted as the starter for the Pro Bowl following the 2000 season. In addition to notable individual numbers, he played in Super Bowl XXXVII for Oakland.

Although his football career left him well-traveled, Garner still dedicates his college and NFL success to his high school and Falls Church hometown, both of which where he feels a strong connection.

“[Stuart football] played a major part in my career; It was the foundation that instilled hard work and discipline into me. When we were over here running hills on those hot summer days, I learned about honor and the ability to go out and focus in any condition,” said Garner.

He still frequently visits Falls Church to see family, and, more importantly, still manages to follow his high-school team.

“I think Coach [Roy] Ferri is doing a phenomenal job getting the crowd and the boosters and everyone excited about Raider football. The guys, and the effort that they’re putting out here – I think they’re about to get their level back up to the one that had been established [before],” said Garner.

The former Raider pigskin star viewed his number retirement ceremony not only as a chance to celebrate his own accomplishments, but as an opportunity to build excitement for Stuart football.

While Garner didn’t witness the hoped-for Raider outcome, he still has faith the team “is on its way back up.”

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