Olivo thrilled to be honored

Tigers retire No. 27 in ceremony that brings former star tailback to tears.
Sunday, September 14, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 2:21 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

Brock Olivo is glad to be back.

Olivo, a star tailback for MU from 1994-97, was so glad to return to Columbia that he hugged almost everyone he recognized at the Missouri football game Saturday.

“Everybody who was here with me during my tenure at Missouri is part of this,” Olivo said.

The Tigers retired Olivo’s No. 27 on Saturday as he became the ninth person to have his name grace the bricks at the bottom of the stands in Memorial Stadium.

In 1997, Olivo won the Mosi Tatupu National Special Teams Player of the Year award. He holds MU’s career rushing yards record with 3,026 and he won the offensive most valuable player and Don Faurot Most Inspirational Player awards three straight years.

Olivo has returned to Columbia since he finished his prolific career, but he said this trip was different from the rest.

“All my closest friends and family were able to experience this one with me, so it obviously meant more than the other trip,” he said.

During the ceremony, fans from his hometown carried a banner reading, “Washington, Missouri Salutes Brock,” through the stands. The student cheering section chanted his name, and Olivo cried.

“I clammed up; I had tears coming down,” he said.

In 1997, Olivo’s senior year, the Tigers went 7-5 and played in the Holiday Bowl, their first bowl appearance in 14 years. The season was Olivo’s greatest MU memory.“We pulled Missouri out of the cellar, if you will,” Olivo said. “There’s nothing greater than realizing we had sealed a winning season.”

After finishing his career at MU, Olivo returned kickoffs for five years in the National Football League, playing for the Detroit Lions. He then spent a year in Rome, Italy, as the offensive coordinator of the Ostia Marines, a club team. He ended up playing as well as coaching.

“It was an American football team but it was all (spoken) in Italian,” Olivo said. “It was one of the most interesting things I’ve ever done.”

Olivo is done playing football, but he is unsure if it will enter his life again.

“I’m through with football as far as sliding a helmet onto my head,” Olivo said. “I’m sort of putting feelers out as to where it is life will take me next.”

Living in Washington, D.C., Olivo teaches Italian part-time in a foreign language exchange program and also is involved with the National Italian American Association.

“I’m sort of an ambassador, if you will, for our great heritage of Italian-Americans,” Olivo said.

He is engaged and plans to marry next summer. And Although his fiancée, Ianthé Jackson, is from Washington, D.C., Olivo is sure of one thing.

“This won’t be my last trip to Missouri,” he said.

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