From 1968 to 1979 Ken Houston appeared in 12 straight Pro Bowls.
Racking up clutch interceptions and tackles, Houston was the backbone of a potent Washington Redskins defense and redefined the way the safety position was played.
After the conclusion of the 1980 season, Houston retired and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with four others.
Nearly 30 years after his induction, though, Houston received a Hall of Fame ring on Wednesday at Redskins Park.
As the story goes, Houston received a ring during his induction ceremony but lost it in the Gulf of Mexico.
“I had gone fishing a couple of years ago and I was reaching to net a fish, and I never wear my Hall of Fame ring, (but) on this particular day I did,” Houston told Larry Michael, Voice of the Redskins, on the set of “Redskins Nation”. “And I was going to net the fish and my ring slipped into the Gulf.”
While the ring being lost upset the Hall of Famer, he didn’t pursue a replacement. But at an alumni reunion a couple years back, Redskins owner Dan Snyder noticed Houston's bare finger, and after hearing that he had lost his Hall of Fame ring, vowed to get him a new one.
“I was at the reunion a couple of years ago and I was talking to him, I shook his hand and the first question out of his mouth was, ‘Where’s your Hall of Fame ring?’ and I told him a story,” Houston said. “I said (I was) fishing and it slipped in the Gulf.
“He walked up the steps and said, ‘I’ll get you another one.’ And so I thought I heard it and I caught up with him and I said, ‘Excuse me? You know they’re a lot more expensive than when I got mine,’ and he goes, ‘I’ll get you another one.’”
That ring was presented to Houston Wednesday in front of former Redskins players and staff, as well as the current roster.
“I was invited up for the OTAs, but today, in front of all the players, he surprised me with my Hall of Fame ring,” Houston explained. “I’m still shaken and I could barely hold my hand when they put it on, but it’s one of the best things I’ve ever had happen to me.”
“You’re playing for a generation of Redskins fans and Redskins players, and every time that you play on TV, you have all these people rooting for you that you have no idea who they are,” Houston told them. “So it’s a lot more than just about you even though you are the current players, we still love them all.”
Although Houston constructed an unparalleled body of work en route to Hall of Fame honors, one play stands out from his 196 games: his game-saving tackle on Dallas Cowboys running back Walt Garrison on 4th-and-goal.
Stopping Garrison dead in his tracks after securing a pass at the goal line, Houston overpowered the running back and preserved a 14-7 Redskins victory.
“I saw what was taking place and I thought I could get between he and the ball and probably intercept the ball,” Houston told Michael. “And when I couldn’t, I decided to grab him and I remember it was as quiet as it is in here [the television studio at Redskins Park].”