Sometime in 1989, after winning the Thorp Award — an accolade bestowed upon Long Island’s finest football players — Stephen Boyd strolled into the Wheeler Deli for a roast beef sandwich and a large iced tea.
“I told him the sandwich is on me,” recalled village trustee John Tufarelli and then-owner of the Wheeler Deli.
Little did he know, Boyd would go on to have a seven-season NFL career playing for the Detroit Lions. He was named to the Pro-Bowl team three times and the All-Madden team twice as a middle linebacker.
When Boyd signed his second contract with the Lions, he returned to Valley Stream to visit family and friends, and wound up back in Tufarelli’s deli — asking for another roast beef sandwich and large iced tea.
“He walked in with a Central High School sweatshirt,” Tufarelli said. “That day I took his ten dollars. I said, ‘today you’re paying kid!”
On Sept. 27, the friends reunited at the Crest Hollow Country Club, to mark Boyd’s induction into the third class of Nassau County High School Athletics’s Hall of Fame along with 30 other honorees including 13 athletes and 10 coaches.
Boyd played for the local Green Hornets youth football league from 1979 to 1986, and graduated from Central High in 1990. He was captain of both the football and lacrosse teams, and made the All-State football team in 1988 and 1989.
After high school, Boyd went on to Boston College where he continued playing football. He was the team captain and most valuable player in 1994, and would later be inducted into the school’s Varsity Club Hall of Fame.
His NFL career lasted from 1995 to 2001, but Tufarelli said that has not changed the kind of person Boyd is.
“That just shows you the kind of person he is,” he said. “He has never forgotten where he came from.”