PITTSBURGH — Winning Olympic gold and a Lombardi Trophy is a feat that has only been accomplished once before. Roger Kingdom didn’t grow up in Pittsburgh, but he cried the day he left the Steel City. And now Pittsburgh’s adopted son has hurtled into the history books once again.
Kingdom was a champion track star at Pitt. From there, he won back-to-back gold medals in the 110 meter hurdle event at the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles and the 1988 games in Seoul, South Korea.
Now, the heralded track star is adding another trophy to his case. Kingdom recently earned a Lombardi Trophy as the speed and conditioning coach for the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“It is slowly starting to sink in. It’s such a surreal feeling,” Kingdom said.
Kingdom is only the second person ever, behind Bullet Bob Hayes, to win Olympic gold and a Lombardi Trophy. He talked to Channel 11′s Alby Oxenreiter about what he plans to do with all his hardware.
“I’m going to put them all together,” Kingdom said. “One gold medal on one side, the other gold medal, and the Lombardi standing up in the center.”
Many people may not know Kingdom came to Pitt in 1981 on a football scholarship. He played for two years, but track and field called. He thought his football days were over. Then, former Steelers offensive coordinator and Bucs head coach Bruce Arians called him.
“I was on the golf course when he called. He said, ‘Rog, I’d like you to come and join my staff. Would you be interested?’ And I said, heck yeah,” Kingdom told Oxenreiter.
Kingdom stayed with Arians from Arizona to Tampa and was on the sidelines as the “get back coach” when the Bucs won Super Bowl LV in February.
“The parade on the water, that’s when it started to sink in that I’m a Super Bowl Champion,” he said.
Even with all his success on the international stage, Kingdom always dreamed of winning a championship in a team sport.
“The difference is when you win a gold medal, you control your own destiny,” Kingdom explained. “I think it was more satisfying to find myself in the National Football League and now be a Super Bowl Champion.”
He wants to use his story as an example to encourage kids and student athletes everywhere to keep striving, keep pushing.
“Never give up on your dreams. Keep fighting until all of a sudden, you find that blessing that’s a great fit for you,” Kingdom said.
And Kingdom is still dreaming. He’d like back-to-back Lombardi’s to match his back-to-back gold medals. He also dreams of Pittsburgh and his beloved Pitt.
“I love that university. I went there in 1981 and the day I left in 2013, I actually cried because I never thought I’d leave that city,” Kingdom said. “Pittsburgh will always be in my heart. So who knows, you never know what might happen. Maybe I’ll end up back there if the opportunity presents itself.”