SHAWNEE — Before he wore OU crimson, before he wore Kansas City Chiefs classic red, Creed Humphrey wore Shawnee Wolves navy blue. If you had forgotten, it was easy to remember Saturday, courtesy of the uniformed football players, cheerleaders and musicians who flooded the track inside Jim Thorpe Stadium to celebrate Creed Humphrey Day.
“It’s a W,” said Shawnee sophomore Noah Waldroupe. “A win for Shawnee,” said freshman Charles Hollingshead. “Creed Humphrey’s my idol.” “You can come from low places, but you can go high,” said junior Isaac Hodges.
I don’t know that Shawnee is low. It’s an old Americana town with an old Americana football stadium. And it’s the hometown of a Super Bowl hero who snaps the ball to Patrick Mahomes and has become a Chiefs cornerstone.
Humphrey not only played in Jim Thorpe Stadium, he grew up dreaming of playing in Jim Thorpe Stadium, on the same patch of grass that served as a golden backdrop for his special day. “It’s a blessing for sure, that my hometown would honor me like this,” Humphrey said after Shawnee mayor Ed Bolt declared Saturday “Creed Humphrey Day.” “Something I dreamed about as a little kid, just being able to go out there, play first and foremost in that stadium and into high school.”
A few hundred Humphrey fans, many wearing Chief or Sooner gear, gathered Saturday for the celebration. Humphrey, a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, was blessed by tribal chairman Rocky Barrett. Kathy Laster, chief executive officer of Avedis Foundation, announced her organization was donating 1,000 passes in Humphrey’s name to Shawnee’s Splash Water Park.
Emcee Travis Flood hailed Humphrey’s humility and kindness. Bolt gave Humphrey a key to the city. Then Humphrey signed footballs and hats and signs for kids of all ages, including 90-year-old Julia Slavin. Slavin lived in Kansas City for 60 years; she was a Chief season-ticket holder from 1970-94. She moved back to Shawnee in December 2021, after her husband, Roy, died. Roy Slavin was a 12-year Citizen Potawatomi legislator.
When the Chiefs drafted Humphrey, Julia Slavin said, “my husband liked to have jumped out of his chair. He said, ‘Mahomes’ll have his protection.’” Humphrey is not a big talker. Wasn’t at OU. Is not now. And National Football League offensive linemen fade into the shadows even more. It’s an honor badge of their fraternitBut the stoic Humphrey tore back the veil a little Saturday.
“Being out there on that field … then seeing all these high schoolers and jerseys around me, made me think back to all those times I’ll be able to remember forever in high school,” Humphrey said. “It was awesome to see. I’m hoping I can be someone that they can look up to and see if they can follow in my footsteps, too. It’s a blessing to be where I am right now.”
Humphrey recalled Friday nights at Jim Thorpe Stadium, playing pickup football with the other kids beyond the north goal post, while the Shawnee varsity played Harrah or Noble or Guthrie. “Being back in that stadium, it was really cool,” Humphrey said. “I have a lot of pride for this city. It’s where I’m from, where I was born and raised. Just being able to represent my city out there on Sunday nights, it’s huge for me.
“Just also being able to set an example for the kids in this town. Letting them know if they can work hard, do all that, they’re in a spot where they can make it, too.” We see him as a Chief. We remember him as a Sooner. But don’t forget Creed Humphrey’s first football love. The Shawnee Wolves.