By Brad Spencer
After retiring Iman Shumpert's jersey number last winter, OPRF High School will send another to the rafters on Aug. 24.
Eric Kumerow, a former three-sport athlete at OPRF who excelled in football and went on to play at Ohio State University and the NFL, will be honored with the retirement of his high school jersey No. 14 during a special ceremony at halftime of OPRF's season and home opener against Fenger.
While a high school athlete, Kumerow, who graduated from OPRF in 1983, was named Football Player of the Year by the Chicago Tribune and selected All-State in both basketball and football. He went on to earn All-Big Ten status as a linebacker at Ohio State and was drafted by the Miami Dolphins in the first-round (16th overall) of the NFL draft in 1988. Kumerow spent three seasons with the Dolphins and one with the Chicago Bears before retiring in 1992 due to injuries.
Kumerow was a daunting figure on the gridiron for the Huskies. He played quarterback and helped lead OPRF to the semifinals of the state tournament in 1982. But the jersey number retirement, he insists, should be more of an honor for the entire team.
"I'm honored that they are doing this, but football is such a team sport and the guys on that squad helped me be the player I was back then. I'm really looking at this as more of an honor to the entire team."
Kumerow, a salesman with DuKane Precast out of Naperville, resides in Bartlett with his wife, Tammi. He has four children, all of which are involved in sports. Courtney, 21, is a senior basketball player at the University of Whitewater-Wisconsin, where her younger brother, Jake, 20, is a sophomore football player. Kyle, 18, and Derrick, 14, both play football for South Elgin High School.
The former Huskie hasn't had much contact with his old high school. After his NFL playing days ended — mainly due to a blown out Achilles tendon — Kumerow said he lived in Florida for 10 years.
"We've been back in the Midwest since 2003, but I've kept in contact with a lot of the guys from that team. It's a tightknit group. That's probably one point I'm going to express to the current team and the fans. It's not about winning and losing at that level. It's about developing relationships you are going to have for the rest of your lives. The friendships that come out of being on a high school team are priceless."
One thing's for sure, Kumerow said, he won't be preparing a speech. "Whatever I say, it'll come straight from the gut."
Shumpert, a 2008 grad of OPRF and first-round draft pick last year by the New York Knicks, attended his high school jersey retirement ceremony in December during the NBA lockout.
The OPRF football team's game against Fenger kicks off at 7:30 p.m. at Oak Park Stadium.