TEXAS ELITE SPARTANS WILL PLAY MISSISSIPPI PANTHERS FOR WOMEN’S NATIONAL FOOTBALL CONFERENCE (WNFC) IX CUP
FRISCO, Texas (June 20, 2023) – Umeki Webb, like a generation of kids growing up in Dallas in the early 1990s, cheered for Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin, Deion Sanders, and the rest of the Cowboys.
Those Cowboys won three Super Bowl championships in four years and dominated the NFL.
On Sunday, Webb will attempt to win her sixth championship ring when the Texas Elite Spartans play the Mississippi Panthers at 6 p.m. in the Women’s National Football Conference IX Cup at Ford Field at The Star in Frisco.
“All of the championships represent something different, but in totality, they mean we paved the way for future generations of young ladies to aspire to be great,” Webb said. “The legacy of the Texas Elite Spartans will live on way past me or anyone on the current roster.
“When things get muddled up, and people talk about women's football and who was the best or who did what, they will never be able to deny that the Texas Elite Spartans were a dynasty - and I was part of that.”
The championship weekend kicks of Friday and The Star in Frisco and runs through the IX Cup on Sunday night. Activities include the Commissioner’s IX Cup social, a championship breakfast, skill camp and a championship after party.
Tickets can be purchased at wnfcfootball.com.
The Women’s National Football Conference (WNFC) is a major Women's American Football
League in the United States. We exist to create and foster an environment for female athletes to sustain healthy lifestyles through playing, coaching and participating in American Football at the highest level.
Webb, a 47-year-old grandmother of six, played three seasons in the WNBA and several more overseas before starting her football career in 2008.
Webb passed her love for football on to her two sons. One of her sons, Jalen Mills, starts at
cornerback for the New England Patriots. The seven-year veteran, who earned a Super Bowl ring with Philadelphia in 2017, played at DeSoto High School and LSU.
Webb, 5-11 and 200 pounds, will start at right tackle for Texas Elite. That’s a testament to her athleticism, considering she began her football career as a receiver before shifting to tight end and now right tackle.
“She’s selfless,” Coach O.J. Jenkins said. “As you get a little slower and less athletic - Father Time catches up with everybody - it’s figuring out where you still fit on the field.
“Part of the reason we moved her is we needed her. She can handle women one and a half times bigger than her. She’s developed into a very skillful player.”
Webb loved football as a kid, but playing wasn’t an option for girls when she was growing up like it is now, so she focused on basketball.
The Kimball High School graduate earned a scholarship to North Carolina State, where she averaged 11.7 points per game in four seasons. The Phoenix Mercury drafted her in the third round (24th overall) of the 1997 WNBA draft. She played two years before getting traded to the Miami Sol, where she played two seasons.
Then she played in Greece, Israel, and Austria before a torn ACL forced her into retirement.
“An ACL tear back in those days was career ending,” she said. “I just rehabbed it. I just didn’t want to go under the knife.”
Yes, Webb has played her entire football career with a torn ACL. Her left knee lacks cartilage, so it’s bone-on-bone. The pain in her knees - the right one eventually needs to be replaced - led to the position changes.
“God blessed me with a high tolerance for pain because it is painful. It’s tested me mentally for sure, but physically as well. Every year, I say it’s time to retire, and every year (Jenkins) talks me into coming back,” Webb said, laughing. “She just keeps moving my position, so I can still be out there.
“Playing football has allowed me to continue to be an athlete. I was born an athlete. I probably would’ve played some football had it been something I was able to do at the time. In Texas, that wasn’t an option.”
Webb’s life changed when a close friend who played for the Dallas Diamonds invited her to a women’s football game in 2008.
Her friend suggested Webb try out, but she hesitated.
“I’m like everybody else. I didn’t want to get hit,” Webb said. “But when I got out there, it was just natural. It was a natural transition for me.
“Being part of sports teams all my life, I enjoyed the camaraderie. You have all kinds of shapes, sizes, and ethnicities, and it allows you to reach people you’d never otherwise reach.”
She had success as a receiver because she was taller than most cornerbacks, and she could jump. The combination made her lethal.
“We were rookies together. We tried out on the same day. She was Megatron,” said Jenkins, referring to former Detroit Lions’ star Calvin Williams.
“She was a player who had it all: Size, athleticism, intelligence. She was bigger, faster and stronger than anyone else on the field, but she never felt like she had to prove it.”
So what does her NFL-playing son think about his mom playing football?
“He’s a typical guy. He doesn’t think women are supposed to play football, but he’s adjusted his mindset on it,” Webb said. “You have to be able to wrap your mind work and something like this.”
That said, he’s been to a few games and has participated in the coin toss.
Her other son, Jaquan, has five kids, including a daughter. That’s made him more receptive to his mom playing football.
“He wants his daughter to see that anything is possible,” she said.
All she has to do is look at her grandmother and see it’s possible.
Author: Jean-Jacques Taylor
Jean-Jacques Taylor, a native of Dallas, is an award-winning journalist who has covered the Dallas Cowboys and the NFL for 25 years and is president of JJT Media Group.