Dronett’s career, family life recalled
Shane Dronett was remembered Sunday as a person who loved a good joke, and as a hard-hitting ball player, but above all as a devoted husband and father.
Dronett’s 10-year professional football career included a stellar performance in the 1998 Super Bowl. His funeral filled Claybar Funeral Home to capacity, days after his body was found from an apparent self-inflicted wound in his Georgia residence. Within the last year he had undergone brain surgery to remove a tumor.
Mourners included his teammates from Bridge City High School, the University of Texas plus pro football teams Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos. At times, somber faces would show a grin as a funny story about Dronett was related. Then, reality slipped in as they realized a dear friend was gone.
Dronett was eulogized by four people who had been important in his life; his aunt Dottie Dorgis, who now lives in New Jersey; Rodney Townsend, a childhood friend and teammate at BCHS; Scott Gooch, who played with Dronett at Bridge City and was instrumental in recruiting him to UT; and Travis Hall, Dronett’s roommate on the road for the majority of his pro years.
Dorgis, also his godmother, told a story about Dronett as a young dirty-faced boy wanting to show off a puppy he thought was beautiful. “It was the dirtiest, mangiest, ugliest thing I had ever seen,” she said. “But Shane was so proud of that puppy that I had to agree with him that it was beautiful. That is the way he was, he found a lot of beauty in life.
“Hillary Clinton’s book “It Takes a Village,” talks about how it takes a village to raise a child. Orange and this area was Shane’s village. It was his anchor and was always his home. He was a gentle giant and will be missed in many ways.”
Townsend, spoke of meeting Dronett when they were 13, and remaining friends for 25 more years. “For nine years we were very close,” he said. “Shane loved to hunt anything from bullfrogs to deer and we would hunt and fish any where we could anytime we could. Shane would make anything a competition and would compete hard. He was a remarkable man and a good friend. The thing that makes me proudest about Shane is that he was a strong, loving, husband and father.
Gooch was a senior on the Cardinal team when Dronett joined as a sophomore. Gooch accepted a scholarship to the UT, and was one of the reasons Dronett decided to attend there. “Coach McWilliams wanted Shane bad. Texas was the fourth visit for Shane that year and Coach McWilliams wanted me to convince Shane to sign with Texas. I knew how much Shane loved to hunt so I set up a hunt for Shane as part of his visit. We took him out to an exotic game ranch and let him shoot a mouflon sheep, and had it butchered and cooked for him that day. I told Shane we did this every weekend at UT. We also had a little ‘cold refreshment’ and I kept working on him. Later that night we called the other three coaches that he had already committed to and told them he was going to attend UT. I made him sign a letter of intent on a cocktail napkin that night.
“Shane was a fierce player and always ready to take something over the top. He was always good for a joke or a prank but the bottom line was that he was a great friend, one of the most generous people I ever knew.”
Gooch turned to Dronett’s wife and daughters and said, “You are a part of the Longhorn family we will always be there for you in any way.”
Hall lived on the road with Dronett for six years. “We came from similar backgrounds,” he said. “We were both from broken homes and blended families. We became close and our friendship lasted until the end. Shane Dronett was the most devoted family man that I have ever known.”
Other memories of Dronett also referred to his family life. He was well over 6-feet tall, 300 pounds and gave his all on the field; then come home tired and allow daughters Berkley and Hayley to “boss him around” as long as they wanted. “He was tough on the field, but at home he was tender, kind and loving,” said Gooch.