Hometown Hero: Agee receives award for on-field, off-field impact

Published 11:35 am Tuesday, March 12, 2024

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

The Chilton County Chamber of Commerce kept its tradition of recognizing one of Chilton County’s own as a Hometown Hero at its Annual Banquet & Awards Dinner on Feb. 29. This year, Tommie Agee, who was a trailblazer for hundreds of football players in the county and put the Town of Maplesville on the map, was honored.

“He so deservingly has won so many awards, but there is still one more that needs to be added,” Rachel Martin, Executive Director of the Chilton County Chamber of Commerce, said in her introduction of Agee at the banquet. “We recognize our very own Hometown Hero who paved the way for many others, who blazed a trail from the small Chilton County town of Maplesville right up to the National Football League, and left the pathway better than he found it.”

Tommie Agee transcended what people thought was possible in the small town in the 1980s while also making a significant impact in helping his community be a better place. Born on Feb. 22, 1964, Agee was the youngest of four boys who all excelled on the athletic fields. He said in his acceptance speech for the award that many people in his life from Maplesville helped shape him into the person he is today such as family, teachers and other supporters.

However, his grandmother was his biggest influence.

“My grandmother is the person responsible for me being the type of person I am,” Agee said. “I can recall that every time life got tough for me on the gridiron or anywhere, it always goes back to the people who were in my life in Maplesville. I am proud of everyone who has come through my life in the past.”

Agee’s father instilled hard work, putting your family first and being a man of your word into him at an early age. Agee took those values and put them out onto the athletic fields at Maplesville lettering in baseball, basketball, track and football. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Agee played for former Maplesville head coaches Bobby Hathcock and Billy Collins who helped guide him to becoming one of the most prolific running backs in the state of Alabama by his senior season. He also became one of the most beloved students on the campus, knowing everybody, serving as the schools Beta Club President and more.

Hathcock attended the banquet and said a few words about his former player.

“When he was in high school he treated the other people in school there (kindly), the kids who did not play football and he was ahead of his time of the term ‘anti-bullying,’” Hathcock said. “The little kids in the (elementary) school thought he was a superhero, and he would take time with them. Those are the things that I am more proud of you for than anything else, and you have not changed a bit. When he was recruited as a senior, not only were they getting an unbelievable athlete, but someone with a big heart. What Tommie has done for Maplesville (is great), bringing great publicity and recognition to Chilton County for the last 40 plus years. I love this guy.”

As Agee’s stardom grew on the field, schools came calling for his talents, including Auburn University. Former Auburn assistant coach Joe Whitt visited the Agee family home on Pinedale Drive, what is now named Tommie Agee Drive, needing a lead blocker for another stud running back in their program. You may know Bo.

During the visit, Agee’s grandmother decided she heard enough, and she decided she knew exactly where he was going to attend school. Agee graduated from Maplesville in 1982 and accepted a full football scholarship to Auburn to start his post-high school career.

Playing under head coach Pat Dye, Agee was immediately inserted into the starting lineup and remained there throughout his four years on campus. He developed quickly into more than just a lead blocker for Bo Jackson, but a dynamic running back in his own right. During his freshman year at Auburn, the Tigers faced future NFL Pro Bowl quarterback Boomer Esiasan and the University of Maryland. At the time, no team had ran for more than 200 yards against Maryland the last two seasons.

That game, Agee led the Auburn running backs corps with 219 yards himself on 24 carries and two touchdowns. As a team, Auburn ran for 439 rushing yards, and it was the first time in the program’s history three running backs ran for over 100 yards in the same game with Agee, Jackson and Lionel James.

Agee finished his career at Auburn with 1,733 yards on 356 carries and 13 touchdowns, and he graduated in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Law Enforcement.

Agee went professional in 1987 being selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the fifth round of the NFL Draft. He spent two seasons with Seattle and the 1989 season with the Kansas City Chiefs, but in 1990 he signed with the Dallas Cowboys where he found his groove.

Agee started 11 games at fullback blocking for NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, and he won back to back Super Bowls with the Cowboys in Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII. Agee retired from the NFL in 1995, and was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 2019 for his great high school, collegiate and professional careers.

“He blazed the path, and he lets these other kids know at these smaller schools that you can make it that far and you can make a difference,” Martin said. “Seeing how he has given back too, he is just an awesome person to talk to, be around and I was so excited to honor him.”

The same year he retired, Agee and Liz Huntley co-founded Project GEAR, a non-profit organization that was set up to steer young people away from destructive lifestyles. He hosted football camps for youth in the county for 10 years, worked with the Lee County Juvenile Court as a Community Service Coordinator and later started his career with the Opelika Parks and Recreation Department.

Agee is now with the City of Andalusia as the Director of Leisure Services where he has been since 2018. He received the Jim Spain Professional of the Year Award from the Alabama Recreation + Parks Association, the highest honor a parks and recreation professional can receive from his peers.

Agee has been married to his wife, Anchylus, for 34 years and they have three children — Angelic, Torey and Tyler, and four grandchildren.

“Every opportunity that I got I did not want to disappoint my hometown, I did not want to disappoint Chilton County because I am a product of everyone (there),” Agee said during his acceptance speech at the banquet on Feb. 29. “I wanted to make sure in everything I did I made Maplesville proud and Chilton County proud. It has been a privilege and an honor to go around the country and represent Maplesville and my home county.”