The game of college football is one of volatile emotions.
The highs of victory and the agonies of defeat, both players and fans have their days and sometimes weeks changed by these emotions. It’s what makes the college game so much better than anything else. Watch a group of young men jump around like little kids after a last second victory and tell me that emotions don’t run high during a game.
However, not all emotions found in a game are a result of the game itself. Sometimes the outside world encroaches in our happy little world of college football.
The outside world gave us a solid reminder of how fragile life was on June 23 of this year. In a single car crash on the way back from a kicking camp in Wisconsin, Nebraska punter Sam Foltz lost his life. Also in the car was former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler who also tragically was killed. Only LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye came away from the accident with his life. We of the Campus Pressbox staff would like to extend our most heartfelt condolences to the families of both Foltz and Sadler.
All it took was wet pavement for these two young men to never make it home again.
Foltz was entering his fourth year of punting for the Cornhuskers after winning the award for the best punter in the Big Ten the previous year. He’d also won Nebraska’s Student-Athlete HERO Leadership Award in 2016 and was a four-time member of the university’s scholar-athlete honor roll. Basically, he was an all-around good guy.
Like Billy Joel says, “Only the good die young.”
Nebraska, in an incredible show of class, decided that the memorial that they’d held for Sam Foltz wasn’t enough. In their season opener, Nebraska found themselves in a 4th and 5 situation and needing to punt. The very situation that they’d need Folz for.
The Cornhuskers sent out the punt team but only 10 members of the 11 member team. Missing? The punter. Realizing what was happening, the entire stadium came to its feet. Nebraska let the clock run out in honor of Foltz and in another show of class, Fresno State declined the penalty.
Words don’t really do the situation justice. Just watch the video.
There are grown men openly crying. Banners are being waved. Signs are being pumped in the air. Jimmy Valvano once said that every day you should laugh, think, and have your emotions moved to tears. This is exactly what he’s talking about.
If you don’t feel anything watching that video, I don’t want to know you.
This is one of those moments where you realize just how special sports can be and not in the usual way. How do you think Foltz’s family felt seeing an entire stadium mourning the loss of their son and brother and celebrating his life? Random strangers are standing up and cheering to honor someone that they never actually knew. That’s powerful stuff.
Need another hit? Here’s the 2013 Nebraska spring game where they let Jack Hoffman, a young kid battling brain cancer, play in the game. He’s literally seven years old. And he runs for a touchdown. Both benches hoist him in the air and celebrate this young, fragile life.
Hang on a minute, my eyes are sweating.
Maybe we all view sports the wrong way. We put our hearts and souls into rooting for our teams and hoping they can bring us happiness when they win. Maybe we should be looking for them to bring us happiness in another way and of another type. One more video, I promise, but maybe this is the kind of emotion that we should really hope for sports to bring us.
E-mail Tim at [email protected].
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