In order to fully understand this post, you will have to know a little bit about me. I have spent the past four years of my life playing high school football for Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, N.J. For those of you who know high school football, you would know that Don Bosco is arguably the best High School football program since 2000 and that they have won five straight state championships and two out of the last three national championships (mythical of course).
However, what you might not know is that from July 1st until the start of school, the Don Bosco football team goes through hell with two a day practices four days a week in the heat of the day. These practices have kind of become a local myth with people saying they are harder than college and NFL practices. And let me tell you, they are right. Usually once a week, we are told to come to practice without our pads and on July 19th of 2010 (summer before my junior year) we were told to come to practice without pads. This meant that we would undergo hell and do a brutal workout that would kill a normal, unconditioned person. It was not unusual to have three or four kids quit during these practices. However, when we arrived at practice and went up to the field, the players (including myself) were treated to a slew of NFL players.
One player came to my eye immediately and that was Fast Willie Parker, the former Steelers great.I got to spend a day talking to and learning from Willie Parker. Most of the kids went around the stations and talked to all the NFL greats that were there but not me. I knew who I wanted to talk to and I was going to spend all four hours with him. In all honesty, I should have gone and talked to a cornerback like Aaron Ross because I play corner/safety, but I was much less interested in him. I spent about 30 minutes just talking with Willie about his time with the Steelers, his legendary run vs. the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, and that tragic moment when he broke his leg. At this point in time I was already a huge Steeler fan, but meeting Willie Parker and spending four hours with him just put me over the top.
One specific moment I remember from this was when we were talking about his touchdown in the Super Bowl and he told me (paraphrased): "That was not me at all. That was just a brilliant play call and great, great blocking by the offensive line and the WR's. All I did was do what I do best on that play. Run fast. Without the offensive line, that would have been nothing."
I was not expecting anything like that. Sure he might say that in a public interview, but he was just talking to a 16-year old high school kid. To hear how humble he was and how much credit he gave to others really impacted my life.
In the past three years I have won two National Championships, over 30 consecutive games, and been named National High School Player of the week but nothing compares to the experience of meeting Fast Willie Parker. The man was a genuine, fun, intelligent person and it was an experience I will never forget.