Waco native Rodrigo Barnes is a Super Bowl champion who continues to make a big impact

Black History Month
Published: Mar. 1, 2021 at 6:24 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Wrapping up black history month, we caught up with a former pro athlete from right here in Waco. Former Dallas Cowboy Rodrigo Barnes took his game all the way to the Super Bowl, winning a ring in 1977.

Now he’s an educator in the Dallas area.

Rodrigo Barnes is a Waco native, he attended Carver High School when it was an all black school.

His senior year, was the first year Carver could compete in UIL events.

“We were competitive. We went to compete. We didn’t step back for nobody and most of the kids that graduated in my class went to college,” said Barnes.

Barnes accepted a football scholarship to Rice University, making him one of the first black athletes at the school. He says transitioning to that environment was a challenge.

“It was like going from night to day in changes and then you had to decide well how do I want this culture to be and how do I get it to accept me and people who come after me,” said Barnes.

Through that experience, Barnes says he became an advocate for black students on campus starting the Black Student Union at Rice.

“At that that time all the black students and athletes were coming to me about issues anyway. There were problems and issues on campus as you can imagine with young people coming from all over the state,” explained Barnes.

That led to some major changes .

“It was a big thing. We picketed in the university and got them to hire the first black coach first black professor,” said Barnes.

Meantime, Barnes was turning heads on the football field too. In 1973, he was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in the seventh round. Though he wouldn’t stay long.

Barnes eventually landed with the Oakland Raiders, where he earned his Super Bowl ring.

“It was great because the bottom line was to be a champion and to be on a super bowl team. The Raiders brought me in to play with some great players,” said Barnes.

Barnes’ NFL career was shorter than expected, the reason on paper is repeated injuries.

After his NFL career ended, Barnes came back to the Dallas area. Now he’s an assistant principal at the Garland Alternative Education Center.

With recent political events both on and off the gridiron, Barnes says his ultimate perspective is this.

“We all are Americans. Divided we fall. There’s no way we’re going to succeed. We got to be together,” said Barnes.

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