Didn’t expect to shed a tear whilst feeding my daughter breakfast, but after listening to the story of former Baltimore Ravens linebacker and special-teams ace O.J Brigance I had to go and get a tissue.
Brigance has amyotrophic lateral sclerosis otherwise known as motor neuron disease.
This means Brigance cannot use his arms or legs, and cannot speak. He communicates via an electronic voice box.
None of this has meant Brigance has spent time away from football, as he is the director of player development at the Ravens.
It was Brigance who set the tone at Super Bowl XXXV (the only one the Ravens have won) as he recorded the opening tackle of the game as a special teams ace on the Giants kickoff return.
Now Brigance is again setting the tone as the Ravens, led linebacker Ray Lewis, the MVP of that said Super Bowl, are two games away from playing for a second Vince Lombardi Trophy.
Brigance sends team mates email messages and also speaks to the players and coaches during the week and in the locker room.
The vast majority of focus will be on Ray Lewis v Peyton Manning today, but spare a thought for a man who cannot stand, cannot talk, cannot tackle, but CAN inspire a team and a city to a huge playoff upset against the red-hot Denver Broncos.
I do love a good Disney film, where you root for the hero to conquer all evil. OJ Brigance is no cartoon hero, he is a real person, and whilst his vocal cords no longer generate any sound, it is his heart and soul that will scream above all the noise of two sets of fans and the stadium sound system inside Mile High Stadium later today.
Can the Ravens win today – yes they can. Adversity is simply a word.
To find out more about OJ Brigance’s Foundation the Brigance Brigade click here.