Friday, August 04, 2006

NFL (Never Figured it Likely)

I just had one of those ‘WOW!’ moments; you know, when you see or hear something that blows your mind and makes you think about what you’ve done with your life? It’s mixed with some covetousness, an inkling of incredulousness and a smidgen of smirk. What was it that made me stop short? Here you go: Brett Keisel signed a four-year, $13.1 million contract and will be starting this year at defensive end for the Pittsburgh Steelers. And so what? I’ll tell you what: Before number 99 became a multi-millionaire – before the starting spot with Pittsburg; before the Super Bowl XL ring; before his days as a starter at BYU – Brett Keisel was the starting tight end/middle linebacker for the Greybull Buffaloes and the big man on their basketball team. And I played against him. In three meetings, our football team never lost to Keisel. The first meeting I watched from the sidelines as a freshman as our first-team won the game. As a sophomore I had my first encounter with the future NFL starter; I was starting on special teams as the wedge man on kickoff return. Keisel had broken his wrist and had a cast, but was allowed to pad it and played. On one return, I went to block him and he laid that cast upside my head; my consolation prize was that he went down after getting tangled up in my limp, momentarily unconscious body and Brandon May returned the kickoff for a touchdown, My junior year, we (Greybull and Rocky Mountain) were tied atop the Five Rivers Conference standings at 5-0 when we rolled into town to take them on. It was their homecoming. Starting now at defensive end, my job – as explained by my coach (Brett’s uncle) – was to make sure he never got clean off the line. And he didn’t. We won 48-21. A defining moment of the contest was when Joe Hatch (friend and future college roommate) knocked Brett off his feet and on his back. It was awesome. I’ve tackled, sacked, chipped, blocked, defended, made a buzzer-beater over (not for the game, just the 3rd quarter) a starting DE in the NFL. My record in six contests is 5-1 while his is 1-5; I’m batting .833, he’s batting .167; I was an active part of four state championships, he was part of one. And that means… I don’t know. Part of me wants to say that if I was as naturally athletic – with a big, muscular 6’6” frame that supports 290 pounds – I could have a Super Bowl ring. But frankly, that’s contrived and vain thinking. Getting down to the brass tacks of the matter reveals it’s all about making the most of the opportunities we’re presented with. Brett has been presented with an opportunity to make a splash on the biggest sports stage in the US; he’s taken advantage natural abilities he’s been given and is making those work for him. That’s my life lesson for the day, my moment of Zen. Am I magnifying my talents in the game of life (a cliché, I know, but very applicable here so deal with it) as Brett has his in the game of football? That’s really what I should be asking, not why he made it in spite of his follies. So props to Brett making it big-time; I’ll cheer for him on Sundays and if he does well, maybe I’ll put him as a backup on my fantasy football team. It’s cool to see a small-town guy making it in the big time. (Brett you know you’ll always fear the Grizz.)