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Jan Stenerud

Norwegian Jan Stenerud was offered a ski jumping scholarship to Montana State University in 1962. While there, Bobcat basketball coach Roger Craft observed him kicking a football around with an injured football player. Stenerud's ability to kick the ball impressed Craft so much that he told football coach Jim Sweeney, who added Stenerud to the team. Stenerud went on to become an All-American in both football and ski jumping, and was added to the roster of the Kansas City Chiefs in 1967. He played in Kansas City until 1979, winning a Super Bowl in 1970, then played for the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings until retiring in 1985. Stenerud was the first and only pure placekicker, who didn't play another position, to be named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. His number 3 jersey was retired by the Chiefs.

A Billings football group called Big Huddle announced Thursday that it is creating a Montana Football Hall of Fame and will induct 13 former players Aug. 12 at its annual gathering at the Billings Hotel and Convention Center.

Big Huddle is a nonprofit organization created to restore football to Montana State Billings, which was known as Eastern Montana College when it dropped the sport in the late 1970s. Inductees in the Montana Football Hall of Fame are Montanans who have played in either NFL or CFL teams.

“This hall of fame is something that should have been in place for years,” said Rick Halmes, Big Huddle chair. “It’s not just to honor past EMC players but all of the great accomplishments of past players, coaches and contributors that have helped support the game we all love from across the state.”

Big Huddle has discovered more than 100 Montana high school and college players who have played in the NFL/CFL since Butte's Jack McAuliffe debuted in 1926.

The initial 13 inductees:

• Harvey Munford, Akron, Ohio, Eastern Montana College and Los Angeles Rams.

• Milan Lazetich, Anaconda, Montana and Cleveland Rams.

• Bill Lazetich, Anaconda, Montana and Cleveland Rams.

• Pete Lazetich, Billings Senior, Stanford and two NFL teams.

• Pat Donovan, Helena High, Stanford and Dallas Cowboys.

• Brian Salonen, Great Falls High, Montana and Dallas Cowboys.

• Mitch Donahue, Billings West, Wyoming and San Francisco 49ers/Denver Broncos. 

• Chris Horn, Notus, Idaho, Rocky Mountain College and Kansas City Chiefs.

• Tuff Harris, Colstrip, Montana and five NFL teams.

• Jan Stenerud, Norway, Montana State and Kansas City Chiefs.

• Dave Dickensen, Great Falls CMR, Montana and NFL/CFL.

Two others will be inducted as contributors: Former Montana State coach/player Sonny Holland as a veteran and former Billings Skyview/MSU standout Kane Ioane as a newcomer.

The inaugural ceremony will feature speeches from all 13 inductees as well as presentation of an official Montana Football Hall of Fame jacket. Two prominent football coaches will be inducted for their lifetime commitment to football and Rocky Mountain College athletic director Bruce Parker will serve as master of ceremonies.

Big Huddle is still searching for a location for its Hall of Fame. Exhibits will include game jerseys, bios and photos. 

Tickets go on sale beginning Friday and will be available at www.bighuddle.com/montanafootballhalloffame. Information is also on the Montana Football Hall of Fame's Facebook page. 

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