Casem couldn’t beat Payton

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 3, 1999

Marino Casem had many wins in his 22 years at Alcorn State. But from 1971-74, he was never able to beat Walter Payton’s Jackson State football team.

&uot;He found ways to beat Alcorn,&uot; said Casem, who had a 132-65-8 record at Alcorn from 1964-85. &uot;One game he kicked the winning field goal, another game he threw the winning touchdown pass, another time he blocked three of our players who would later be drafted to allow Joe Lowery to score the winning touchdown. And, of course, he ran in one winning touchdown. He just found a way to win.&uot;

Payton, the National Football League’s all-time leading rusher and one of the most-recognized athletes from Mississippi, died Monday, nearly nine months after he revealed he was suffering from a rare liver disease. He was 45. He died at his Chicago home.

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&uot;I sure hated to hear that,&uot; said Casem, who just recently retired as athletic director at Southern. &uot;He was a genuine, great football player and an outstanding person. It’s a shame he was cut down in the prime of his life. You could see he had great family values and great home training. I’ve never knew anything but good things about him.&uot;

In 1971, Jackson State defeated Alcorn 35-29. The following year, JSU won 28-14. In 1973, Jackson State won 21-7.

In 1974, when Alcorn finished 9-2 and was named National Black Champions, the Tigers beat the Braves 35-22.

&uot;When Eddie (Walter’s brother) came to Jackson State, we beat them all three years,&uot; Casem said. &uot;Then Walter came along right behind him and beat us all four years.&uot;

Casem said Payton did a lot for the Southwestern Athletic Conference.

&uot;He let everyone know that the SWAC was for real,&uot; Casem said. &uot;He let people know that not only did the conference have great football talent, but that we could coach them. And they could graduate from college and be outstanding personalities in the community. He did wonders for our conference and all of football.&uot;

Casem said he did have the privilege of coaching Payton once, in an all-star football game which pitted the SWAC against other conferences.

&uot;Walter was really something,&uot; Casem said. &uot;He could do it all.&uot;