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Steelers legend, Hall of Fame receiver John Stallworth donates more than $1 million to alma mater

As he often did during his Hall of Fame football career, former Pittsburgh Steelers receiver John Stallworth brought an entire arena to its collective feet during Alabama A&M’s spring commencement. An alumni, Stallworth presented the school with a $1.2 million donation after delivering the commencement address. 

The donation was a gift from Stallworth’s foundation, which provides merit-based scholarships to deserving students attending his alma mater.

“Playing football was never the end goal,” Stallworth said, via HBCU Gameday. “My goal was to own my own business. Football was the vehicle I chose to get there. I left A&M with a bachelor’s degree in business and returned in the offseason to receive my MBA — all in preparation for realizing my dream of having my own business.”

Shortly after graduating from Alabama A&M, Stallworth became part of a Steelers rookie class that included five future Hall of Famers. He was part of two Super Bowl-winning teams during his first two seasons, providing a key block on a Franco Harris touchdown run in Pittsburgh’s 1975 AFC Championship Game victory over Oakland. 

Stallworth played an integral role in the Steelers’ second back-to-back Super Bowl run to close out the 1970s. He caught 3 passes for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns in the first half of the Steelers’ win over the Cowboys in Super Bowl XIII. A year later, his catches of 73 yards (which served to be the game-winning score) and 45 yards in the fourth quarter propelled Pittsburgh to a come-from-behind win over the Rams in Super Bowl XIV. 

Stallworth retired after the 1987 season as the Steelers’ career leader in catches, receiving yards and touchdown receptions. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002, one year after former teammate and fellow wideout (and member of Pittsburgh’s ’74 draft class) Lynn Swann received his gold jacket. 

As stellar as his football career was, Stallworth’s post-football ventures are equally impressive. In 1986, he founded the Madison Research Corporation, which he sold in 2009 after it had become one of the nation’s top IT companies. That same year, Stallworth joined the Steelers’ ownership team. 

As part of his commencement speech, Stallworth advised the new graduates to embrace the challenges that life can inevitably throw at you. 

“Class of 2024, all the events of your life determine the person you will grow to be, the highlights and the lowlights, we’re shaped by them both,” he said. “If we’re truly honest with ourselves, whether looking back over the last four years or the last 50, I think we can agree that those lowlight events – those times we prayed would never happen again, those days that we were thankful we just made it through – coupled with the highlights, give us a deeper understanding of ourselves.” 

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