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By Terry McCormick | AP
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Former Tennessee Titans running back Eddie George says he's deeply honored to be inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame given that the state became his adopted home during his NFL career.
"It's really cool to be inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame, considering I'm not from Tennessee, but considering the great coaches and players that come from this state that are in this building, it's really remarkable to be in the same class," the Philadelphia native said Saturday night.
The 1996 Heisman Trophy winner at Ohio State, George arrived in Tennessee in 1997 when the then-Houston Oilers moved to the state, and he and became the franchise's career rushing leader with 10,009 yards over an eight-year span before he finished in 2004 with the Dallas Cowboys.
During his time with the Titans, the team made its only Super Bowl appearance, losing to the St. Louis Rams following the 1999 season.
"It was just a way of recognizing my career here in Tennessee and when we moved from Houston to become a huge part of this community and to have those great years while I was playing," George said.
The state sports hall of fame also honored former Colorado Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, who retired last year, as the 2014 Tennessean of the Year. The Knoxville native played football and baseball at the University of Tennessee before being drafted by the Rockies.
"To be honored as Tennessean of the Year is fabulous. I'm humbled," Helton said. "To see some of the names like Pat Head Summitt, Coach (Phillip) Fulmer and to just walk in some of the same shoes they've walked in just amazing."
George headed a group of 10 inductees that made up the 2014 class Saturday night.
The class includes former NBA player and current Indiana Pacers assistant coach Ronald "Popeye" Jones, also father of Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones; former Vanderbilt women's basketball player and ex-Purdue coach Carolyn Peck; former University of Tennessee women's basketball star Bridgette Gordon; former major league pitcher Claude Osteen; former Tennessee State football standout Eldridge Dickey; former Tennessee and Detroit Lions player Paul Naumoff; high school and former Memphis State basketball assistant coach Dorsey Sims, Jr.; former Memphis State pitcher and minor league baseball executive Allie Prescott III; former Brentwood Academy football coach Carlton Flatt and long-time Nashville sportscaster Hope Hines.
Other honorees Saturday night included CrossFit competition athlete Rich Froning as Male Professional Athlete of the Year. Tennessee-Martin basketball players Heather Butler and Jasmine Newsome shared the Amateur Female Athlete of the Year award along with Middle Tennessee basketball player Ebony Rowe and Tennessee softball pitcher Ivy Renfroe.