Too far: Dying Notre Dame fan touches heartstrings with request
By GRAHAM MESSNER
For Public Opinion
I'm one of those kind of people who can cry at the drop of a hat.
I've always been that way.
My wife thinks I'm such a loser because I have been known to well up watching something as simple as a sappy AT&T commercial.
So this week, I had a "Brian's Song" moment when I read about the events leading up to Notre Dame's football game between new coach Charlie Weis and 10-year-old brain cancer victim Montana Mazurkiewicz.
Turns out Mazurkiewicz was a major Notre Dame fan (named after Joe Montana) and was nearing the end of his short life last week when his situation was brought to Weis' attention.
As many big-hearted sports figures have done in the past, Weis decided to visit the little guy in an effort to cheer him up. It worked, and the boy smiled for the first time in months, according his mother, Cathy.
Weis brought with him as much Notre Dame imprinted stuff he could get his hands on and entertained Montana for hours as he truly made a new friend.
Prior to leaving the boy's house last Wednesday, Weis asked Montana if there was anything he could do for him. The boy, who had grilled Weis during the visit on play calling in the loss to Michigan State, asked if he could call the first play of Notre Dame's game against Washington.
His play call? "Pass right."
Weis promised he would do exactly that.
On Friday, the little guy passed away before ever seeing his play called.
Then came Saturday and the Irish found themselves backed up deep in their own territory at the 1-yard line for the team's first offensive play. This is hardly the spot for a pass.
Notre Dame quarterback Brady Quinn asked Weis what they were going to do — both of them knew the football thing to do was run it up the middle for a little breathing room. But Weis stayed the course and let Montana's play unfold.
The play resulted in a 13-yard gain, but it meant much more than that.
Weis taught a most valuable lesson to every player on the field wearing a Notre Dame jersey, as well as anyone who has heard this story.
The lesson is that you do what you say you're gonna do. You don't need a signed contract and you don't need a blood pact. All that should matter is your word.
I strongly believe in good and bad karma and what goes around, comes around. Weis gets it. "It" is life and it means a lot more than a football game. He
taught everybody a lesson and there is no other team ever assembled that was happier over a 13-yard gain than the Irish on Saturday.
He also taught them that it's not enough to play for yourself. Even at the high school level, there are people who closely watch their team and sport of choice. That's for whom the kids are playing — the little kid with cancer and the 95-year-old who would love nothing more than to go to a game, but can't get around like he used to.
Upon reading this story, I, of course, had to stop several times to use my shirt as a handkerchief. I imagined the mother watching the first play unfold with tears in her eyes. Wow ...
I also believe every football coach in America should be very afraid of Charlie Weis and what he's gonna bring to Notre Dame football.
I've never been much of a Notre Dame guy, but Weis has changed my opinion of the whole program with his actions. He is the right guy at the right time for the job. He has that working-man's aura about him and the discipline and gridiron wizardry needed to turn the program around.
There have been famous people who have done things like this, but this one felt a little different.
The following paragraph is taken from an account written in a story from The Associated Press.
"As Weis talked with the boy, Montana's mother rubbed her son's shoulder trying to ease the pain. She told Montana, who had just lost feeling in his lower body a day earlier, to toss her a football Weis had given him. Montana tried to throw the ball, but could barely lift it. So Weis climbed into the reclining chair with him and helped him complete the pass to his mother."
Want a hanky?
Things have gone too far for too long
-I saw a segment just a few mintues ago on ESPN, and I decided to post this story. A very touching one.