From Kalispell to Hall of Fame, Sam McCullum was a True Pioneer - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

From Kalispell to Hall of Fame, Sam McCullum was a True Pioneer

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On Saturday, March 24, Billings held the 3rd Annual Montana Football Hall of Fame ceremony. Nine men were enshrined into the new organization. One of those men was Sam McCullum. He left McComb, Mississippi with his family in 1967. They moved to the Treasure State before he became a sophomore in high school, thanks to his father being a military man. McCullum recalled being the second oldest of eight kids. "We moved around about every year, year and a half, until I finished college. So, it was a long time. Luckily enough, we moved to Kalispell and I went to high school there and I finished high school, and as I was finishing high school, my dad decided to retire from the military just so I could finish my high school career."

Eventually his dad moved a couple more times, but Sam stayed. He enrolled and played football at Montana State. He told KULR-8 that anywhere a person goes, they will meet people who will influence his or her life, "When I got to Montana State, there was a great group of guys that I got there with, in my class, in 1970. I met some great people, the coaches, a lot of my teachers, they were really good people, and they reached out to me, and they saw more potential in myself than I saw in myself."

After his years as a bobcat, McCullum went on to the NFL. Before he hit an NFL field, he went through a rookie training camp. "There was this guy named John Holland who was drafted out of the second round out of Tennessee State and he was supposed to be this All-American out of Tennessee State. In the training camp, I was bigger, I was faster, I was stronger, I had better hands. I said, 'if this is supposed to be the best that they're bringing in, I can survive in this game'."

McCullum played ten seasons of professional football. He was a part of the Minnesota Vikings and the Seattle Seahawks. During those ten seasons, he became a player rep. He told KULR-8 that while players were asking for different things, the one thing they really wanting was the ability to choose their own doctor. "In 1977, I had a knee surgery and they had a doctor operate on me who didn't tell me what he did to me. I didn't have the right to know. So, the strike in 1982 was a big strike to get more money but more importantly the control of our own doctors."

After his 10th season of being a part of the National Football League, McCullum walked away from the game. He said trying to live like everyone else was difficult. "When you play the game of football, there's a lot of applause that comes your way. You do something great, people applaud you. You give a speech at a banquet, and it could be a terrible speech but you're a football player, so they applaud you. The expectations of your success is different than someone who hasn't played the game."

While his NFL career may be over, he has found a way to stay involved. He helps current professional football players. He said he's part of the program that helps players manage their finances, "It's an insurance program. it gives me a chance to go around to teams and talk to the teams about how important it is to plan for their future."