Several famous sports figures have ties to our region. A two-time NBA Coach of the Year, an analyst with Sunday Night Football, and an NFL head coach that coached in the Super Bowl are just a few of the famous sports figures that went to college in the Tri-States.
Rodney Harrison played college football for Western Illinois University from 1991-1993. In 1994, Harrison was selected in the NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers. Harrison remained with the Chargers through 2002. While with the Chargers, he was selected for the pro bowl twice. In 2003, Harrison signed with the New England Patriots, where he would remain for the rest of his NFL career. Harrison retired in 2009. Since his retirement, Harrison has become a sports analyst for NBC Sports' Football Night in America.
Hannibal native Cotton Fitzsimmons played college basketball at Hannibal-LaGrange. Following college, Fitzsimmons began a coaching career. His first coaching job was at Moberly Junior College in Moberly, Missouri, where he coached for eleven years. Fitzsimmons was then hired by Kansas State University, where he served as head basketball coach for only two seasons before going into the NBA to coach. In 1970, Fitzsimmons became the coach of the Suns. He took the team to their first winning season, going 48-34 that season. In 1972, Fitzsimmons would go to coach the Atlanta Hawks. He coached the Hawks until 1976, when he became the player personnel director for the 1975 NBA champion Golden State Warriors. In 1977, Cotton Fitzsimmons was hired as head coach by the Buffalo Braves where he remained for only one season before being hired by the Kansas City Kings to be their head coach. With the Kings, he won the NBA Coach of the Year award in 1979. In 1984, Fitzsimmons again switched teams as he sign with the the Spurs, where he was head coach. Fitzsimmons would then return to the Suns from 1988-1992, winning the Coach of the year award again in 1989. In 1992, Fitsimmons retired from coaching until 1996, where he would return for one last season with the Suns. Fitzsimmons was inducted into the Suns' Ring of Honor in 2005. He is also a member of the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and the National Junior College Hall of Fame. Fitzsimmons was nominated for the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011 and 2012.
Josh Kinney attended Quincy University, where he played baseball. After graduating in 2001, Kinney signed as a free agent with the River City Rascals. Two weeks later, the St. Louis Cardinals purchased his contract. Kinney would remain in the minor league system until 2006. Kinney played for the Cardinals during the 2006 season, then missed the 2007 season due to injury. Kinney would return to the Cardinals in 2008, where he would remain for the next two seasons. Kinney signed a deal with the White Sox for the 2011 season. Following this season, Kinney would sign with the Mariners for one season. This was his last season in the majors.
Bryan Cox attend Western Illinois University, where he played football for four years. in 1991, Cox was drafted by the Miami Dolphins. Cox would remain int he NFL as a player until 2002, playing for the Dolphins, Bears, Jets, Patriots, and Saints. Following his time as a player, Cox transitioned into coaching. Since 2006, he has coached for the Jets, Browns, Dolphins, Buccaneers, and is currently the defensive line coach for the Falcons.
Robert "Red" Miller
Robert "Red" Miller was born and raised in Macomb, Illinois, and attended Western Illinois University. Following college, Miller began coaching. In 1977, Miller was named the head coach for the Denver Broncos. Miller's team would have a 12-2 season, winning the AFC Championship. The team then met the Dallas Cowboys in the Super Bowl, where they lost 27-10. Miller remained with the Broncos for two more seasons.