February 20, 2004
Albany- The Super Bowl Most Valuable Player trophy may have the name of Tom Brady on it, but for fans at Monroe High, the game's most valuable player was former Tornado Deion Branch.
Monroe High and the city of Albany rolling out the red carpet this weekend which is Branch's first trip back to his hometown since he caught a team high ten passes in the Patriots Super Bowl win.
Deion Branch returned to where his football career began on Friday at Monroe High school where he was reunited with his high school coach William Chunn and got to see his alma mater's new field house.
Branch was then the guest of a honor at a ceremony in the Monroe Gym where he became the fifth Tornado to have his jersey retired.
Branch, who played for one of Monroe's best teams that won ten games and made it to the second round of the state playoffs in 1996, coveted most the chance to tell the students that his success story could happen to them.
In fact, the Monroe High graduate says he will be glad to share that same message with students at all four of the city's high schools in his next trip to his hometown.
Branch said "It is nice to see those guys paying attention and looking up to me and maybe somebody wants to be the next Deion. I hope they go out and do bigger and better things than I did in high school."
The other Monroe players to have their jerseys retired along with Deion Branch are Greg Pratt, Lester Sherman, Antonio Leroy and Michael Appling.
Appling was a teammate of Branch's in high school and has been confined to a wheelchair since he suffered a spinal injury during a game.
The celebration for Deion Branch continues in Albany Saturday morning with a parade down Pine Avenue at 10:00 a.m. followed by a ceremony in front of the City/County Judicial Building where Deion Branch will be given the key to the city.
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