Players come and go, but teammates are forever! This is a mantra Coach Lou Holtz frequently shared with us as players and continues to remind us of today. As 18–22-year-old student athletes we heard his words, but we did not truly understand and appreciate them. As with many things, the passage of time and life experiences has afforded us the opportunity to fully understand and appreciate what Coach Holtz meant with those eight simple words.
Individually and collectively over the last 30 plus years we have shared many of life’s moments with each other. Together we have celebrated marriages, child births, professional achievements, and other amazing moments. Conversely, we have also mourned the loss of teammates, spouses, parents, children, and other loved ones leaning upon each other. Additionally, when one of us has faced personal adversity or battled demons, as teammates we stepped forward to assist. No teammate is ever alone. We have always strived to navigate the best of times and worst of times with a strength that was forged on the football field and a camaraderie that was developed in the locker room.
This past weekend the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2022 induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio, proved to be exemplary of teammates being forever. At the induction ceremony over 20 members of Holtz Heroes Foundation, Inc. gathered to support one of our own. We gathered to celebrate Bryant Young’s induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Our presence was indicative of the love and respect we have for Bryant and the pride we share in having played a small role in his journey to football’s holy grail. Bryant’s speech brought a wide range of emotions because we knew the trials and tribulations he has navigated over the course of his career and in his personal life. We knew the strength he exhibited for his family during the most difficult time a family can experience, the loss of a child. We cried because so many of us knew Colby and we too will never forget him. We had been there for Bryant at the worst of times and now we so appreciated seeing him celebrate the best of times.
We travelled from all over the country to a small town in Ohio to show our support for Bryant because teammates are forever, and we now fully appreciate what that mantra means. Congratulations Bryant, thank you for always exemplifying trust, love and commitment through your actions and words. Your humility and courage continue to inspire us just like those traits you possess did when you were our captain and represented Our Lady’s University with class, pride, and a relentless commitment to excellence. You are in Canton now Bryant, but we’ll forever look back fondly on the years you wore the gold helmet, the interlocking ND on your jersey sleeves, the number 97 on the front and back with your hand in the dirt and an intimidated opponent across from you.
Click here to see Bryant Young’s Pro Football Hall of Fame induction speech (Pro Football Hall of Fame defensive lineman Bryant Young’s full Hall of Fame speech). A speech that Rich Eisen (who has been at the induction ceremonies each year since 2003) referred to as “One of the most beautiful, heartfelt and heartbreaking speeches I’ve ever heard here at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.”