MARION COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - This NFL season began with one dream for the league's nearly 1,700 players to make it to the Super Bowl.
Less than one hundred of them will actually see that dream come true tomorrow night in Arizona, and it's a moment they will cherish forever; knowing they may never make it this far again.
That's the case for one Horry County man who wore a Denver Broncos uniform in the 1990 Super Bowl. 25 years later he still wears a uniform. The difference is, the new one comes with a badge.
On any given day inside the Marion County Law Enforcement Center, you can find Deputy Richard "Jake" McCullough. Looking at him in these halls you might not ever know it, but Loris born McCullough was once considered the best high school football player in his home state.
"At the time it didn't really dawn on me that hey you're the number one football player in the state of South Carolina. It was just ok, you accomplished that, let's go on to the next one," McCullough said. That next goal was to play college football. McCullough signed with the Clemson Tigers out of high school, paying his dues before finally getting a chance to shine late in his college career, and he did.
The Denver Broncos drafted McCullough in 1989, and the timing could not have been better. That season the Broncos advanced to the Super Bowl in New Orleans to face the 49ers. McCullough's dream came true but he couldn't believe it at first.
McCullough said, "You're going to the Super Bowl so I kept repeating that until I finally realized I was screaming it. So I pulled my truck over, and I jumped out of my truck running down I-70 jumping up and down screaming, I'm going to the super bowl, and I got to thinking hey man you better get off this highway," he joked.
That year, McCullough's rookie season would be the highlight of his time in the NFL. By the time his football career was over, McCullough would play for three other teams including a stint in London before he would eventually stop playing following an injury.
McCullough moved to Texas and became a car salesman. He hadn't spent much time at home since his playing days until he returned for a funeral for a neighbor, a turning point in life that would bring McCullough back to South Carolina.
"While I was home, I took a look at my mom and to me it seemed she just didn't look right so she asked me to stay a little bit with her. I said ok mom I'll stay with you here a little while til [sic] I go back," McCullough said. Before McCullough could return to Texas, his mother passed away.
McCullough hung around the area doing construction work until his brother, a Lieutenant with Horry County Police Department, convinced him to join law enforcement. McCullough found a new uniform and set out on a journey to achieve yet another goal.
"It's gonna [sic] be here in Marion County. I don't want to alarm nobody [sic] but I could see Sheriff Richard McCullough in the future…yeah," McCullough said.
In the meantime, don't expect to find this deputy watching football on Sunday afternoons. "I grab a spot on the couch, flip to Lifetime Movie Network, and that's it. I couldn't tell you who played on Sunday or who won," he added.
McCullough did say every once and awhile he will catch a college football game to cheer on the Tigers, and he does have plans to get back to football as a volunteer coach for local schools in the future.?