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Friday, November 23, 2012

Football is Where I Belonged.

I grew up in Cleveland and my dad played professional hockey for the Cleveland Barons. He had broke into the league with the Detroit Red Wings, played for Chicago Black Hawks, Played for St. Louis flyers, then got traded over to the Pittsburgh hornets where he met my mother. He and my mother got married and I was born. They moved to Cleveland and I grew up watching him play as the Cleveland Barons. I started skating when I was 3 years old. He really worked with me in hockey. Growing up, I was playing in all the hockey leagues. I played hockey all the way up to age 17. I even played Hockey in high school. However, I moved from the inner city of Cleveland to the suburbs of Cleveland. All the guys I got to know were all playing football and I had never played football at all. I asked my dad if I could play and he said no. He told me I should just stick to hockey, I was better off. My mother secretly signed me up. On my first game, my mom brought him to watch me play. He was very agitated and asked what I was doing playing football. My mother told him that I really wanted to play so she signed me up. He said “it’s a stupid game.” First play I get clipped, it shattered my knee. The doctor told me I could never play sports again. I had to have two knee surgeries from that shatter. My father didn’t talk to me for three months after that.

 In 10th grade, I kept working. I ran track, I did a lot of swimming, and I spent a lot of time ice skating. I was sort of a jack of all trades athlete. I was really good at all of them but I wasn’t great at anything. I continued to work out, built my leg and knee back up, did a lot of leg weight lifting and running. Ice skating was really great for my legs. I went out for the football team in 10th grade and I wasn’t even a starter. Same with 11th grade. I finally made top grade in my senior year.  I was 6 foot 185lbs and I could run pretty fast. We got a new coach that year, a guy named Leo Strang. He took our team and made them a powerhouse. He really helped me. I averaged 10.9 yards per carry that whole year. I lead the state in scoring. I had scholarships basically any place I wanted to go.

I really enjoyed everything about football. Hockey was fun too, but my real passion was in football and that’s the way I went. Despite the injuries and the health problems resulting from my days as a pro-footballer, I wouldn’t change it for anything. I guess that’s a big part of the reason I’m putting so much effort into the Keepr. It’s my chance to give back to my fellow NFL players through the player care foundation and my chance to relive the good times.

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