A set of coaching brothers, two QBs that have never have been to the big game, retirements and tattoos... there are just so many story lines flooding the news in the days leading up to Super Bowl XLVII this coming Sunday. But one story that hasn't received as much attention is that of Mr. OJ Brigance.
Last week I was watching post-game coverage of the AFC and NFC championship games and this man in a wheelchair, unable to speak or move anything but his eyes and lips, was featured during the Baltimore Ravens post-game win celebration. I questioned "ALS?"
After a quick Google search I learned that was OJ Brigance, former NFL player and member of the Raven's 2004 Super Bowl champion team, and yes, he is living with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
The Reeve Foundation draws its attention to all forms of paralysis, and that includes ALS, in which the body is hit with a neurological disease. From our Paralysis Resource Center
: "Motor neurons are nerve cells located in the brain, brainstem, and spinal cord that serve as controlling units and vital communication links between the nervous system and the voluntary muscles of the body. The loss of these cells causes the muscles under their control to weaken and waste away, leading to paralysis." (Click here to learn more.
Watching Brigance for a brief moment, I couldn't help but to wonder, how does this happen to someone
? But then my brain switched gears and after learning more about Brigance, I think, this is one phenomenal person
. I read a great piece this morning in Newsday
about what Brigance means to the organization:
Brigance continues to work full-time, regularly interacting with players, coaches and team officials. Not a single member of the organization hasn't been touched in some way by the former linebacker and special-teams ace.
"Our strength is made perfect in our greatest weakness," coach John Harbaugh said. "And here O.J. is, visibly in a weakened physical state yet in an incredibly strong spiritual and intellectual place, and he shows that every day. He's just a shining light in the building, and we all definitely are energized by that."
But ask Brigance, and he will tell you that it is the other way around. That it is those around him who give him the will to live. (Photo credit: AP)
Read about the rest of Brigance's journey. (It's a long piece but well worth the read.)
Regardless if the San Francisco 49ers or the Baltimore Ravens win the coveted Super Bowl trophy this Sunday, one thing is for sure, I'm pulling for a win for Brigance and all those affected by ALS.
Join our community.