Darryl Grant stepped back on to the field at Rice Stadium
for the first time in over 30 years on Thursday, taking up an offer from head
coach David Bailiff to speak to the current group of Owls as they wrapped up
preparations for Saturday's Homecoming clash with UTSA.
Few former Owls could bring as formidable a list of
accomplishments with their message to the current players. Grant beat the odds as a ninth-round pick by
Washington in 1981, playing for 11 years in the NFL and capturing two Super
Bowl rings. In 2007, he was enshrined in
the San Antonio Sports Hall of Fame, where he joined former Rice standouts
Tommy Kramer, Tobin Rote and Norm Charlton.
But fewer could find kinship with so many of the position groups of players who gathered to hear his message, because during his time at Rice, Grant seemingly saw playing time at nearly every position along the offensive and defensive fronts for the Owls.
Grant arrived on South Main in 1977 as a center, but someone
who had excelled on both sides of the ball at Highlands High School in San
Antonio. He would letter as a true freshman at that position, then move to nose
guard as a sophomore, linebacker as a junior and then flip back to offensive
tackle as a senior.
"They (the Rice coaching staff) knew that I could play pretty
much anywhere they needed me. I was willing to move, so they placed me wherever
there was a need. I always looked at it
that they had confidence in me to handle it." Grant said. "It seemed like I was
always drawing the assignment against the other team's best player. When I was a sophomore at nose guard and we
played against Oklahoma, it meant I was going against Greg Roberts (1978 Outland
winner). When I was a senior playing Arkansas, it meant lining up a tackle
against Billy Ray Smith (two-time, All-American)."
"I looked at each challenge as an opportunity to be noticed
because I knew scouts would be watching tape of those players. My hope always
was that I would stand out on film and they would add me to their list of
prospects. I always believed that showing versatility would be something that
would help me get to the pros."
Grant's hunch paid off when Washington selected him in the ninth
round in 1981, announcing his selection as a guard. Grant was part of a draft haul for the
Redskins that included Mark May (OT), Russ Grimm (OG), Dexter Manley (DE) and
Clint Didier (TE). Each of those players
would become a stalwart on Washington teams that would play for the NFC title
four times in the next decade. Grant would join them, but only after yet
another position change, to defensive tackle.
After a rookie season spent learning the position, Grant
became a fixture on the Washington defensive front, along with Manley, Charles
Mann and Dave Butz. In 10 seasons in Washington, Grant went to the
playoffs six times, played in four NFC Championships and three Super Bowls,
But for all his accumulated time in the postseason, Grant's
career may be best remembered for the celebratory spike after scoring the only
touchdown of his career to cement Washington's 31-17 win over Dallas in the NFC
With Washington clinging to a 24-17 lead with seven minutes
left in the game, Dallas quarterback Gary Hogeboom's screen pass to Tony
Dorsett was deflected into the air by Manley. Grant grabbed the deflection and
deftly avoided tacklers to reach the end zone.
Grant unleashed a fearsome spike of the ball as the
Washington fans went into a state of delirium fueled by the knowledge they had
vanquished the hated Cowboys and were going to the Super Bowl. The celebration
grew so boisterous that sections of RFK Stadium began to bounce and a few began
to crash in to each other.
A photo of Grant's spike found its way on the cover of
Sports Illustrated, ensuring Grant a lifetime of autograph requests.
"I've easily signed tens of thousands of them," Grant
recalled. "And these are not reprints of the cover. These are original magazines with the address
labels on them. The funny thing is whenever anyone has one for me to sign, they
also tell me they were there in that end zone when I scored, but there is no
way that many people were actually in that corner," he laughed.
Ironically, Grant's moment in time allowed him to join a
former Rice teammate, Earl Cooper, as two of three former Owls (Frank Ryan,
twice as a member of the Cleveland Browns) to grace the cover of Sports
Illustrated. Cooper made two appearances in his career with San Francisco giving
the duo three covers, or just one less than the number of wins they enjoyed in
three seasons as teammates at Rice.
This weekend, Grant will join with many of his old teammates
to reminisce not so much about the scores of games, but of the experiences that
bond teammates for eternity, no matter the outcome of contests.
"We held our own in so many games back then, but we did not
come out with a lot of wins," Grant said. "But they were great times and I am
looking forward to sharing a lot of stories."
HOUSTON, Texas - When the
Rice Owls women's basketball team takes the floor on Nov. 14 against Prairie
View A&M in the season opener, they will have a new voice over the airwaves
bringing you all the action. Rice IMG announced on Friday the addition of Alex
Del Barrio for the upcoming 2014-15 season, a familiar voice in the Houston
"I want to thank Rice Athletics and
IMG for bringing me into the family as I am beyond excited for this opportunity
to join the broadcast team for the Owls," Del Barrio said. "I think
the fans of Rice will enjoy my call of the game and I look forward to describing
the action of Owl athletics to all of the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and
fans of the program."
Del Barrio is currently a talk show host and on-air
talent for SportsRadio 610 in Houston. Prior to his move to Houston, he was the
announcer for the world famous Harlem Globetrotters. He performed with the
Globetrotters in 26 countries on five continents in a two year stint from
Prior to the Globetrotters he worked in a variety of
broadcasting roles in McAllen, TX. His most notable was as the voice of the Rio
Grande Valley Vipers, the NBA Development League affiliate of the Houston
Rockets. Del Barrio's professional works includes play-by-play on NBA TV and
also serving as the sports anchor for FOX 2 News in McAllen. He also most
recently filled in for the Rice Owls baseball in 2014 when he called the
three-game series against FIU.
Del Barrio is 31 and lives in Houston, TX.
On a cold and blustery November day in 1959, Rice and Texas A&M faced off for little more than bragging rights, but the less than ideal conditions set the stage for one Owl to post a truly unique milestone as Rice senior Gordon Speer personally accounted for all the points on both sides of the ball in a 7-2 Rice win.
The two schools were two years removed from an epic showdown at Rice Stadium that feature the top-ranked Aggies and 20th ranked Owls, but on this day, Rice was still in search of its first win of the year in a season that had tied with then #17 Florida (17-17) and then #15 SMU (13-13) as the high water marks. It's worth noting that although they came into the game 0-5-2, all but one of the Owls first seven opponents came into the game ranked, including an opener against defending national champion LSU. A&M had seen the promise of a 3-1 non-conference start, including a win over at then #19 Michigan State, dissolve in four consecutive losses in Southwest Conference play.
The game was also the third consecutive to be played at Rice Stadium, as the series had been moved as the annual site of the series in 1957 and would remain as such through 1967 to take advantage of the much larger capacity of the Owls home field. However the bone-chilling damp and windy day kept most of the paying patrons away, but those who braved the elements came away with a story to tell.
After the Owls were backed up to their goal line in the first quarter, Speer's punt attempted was seized by the northerly winds and sent rolling back towards the goal line. Only an alert play by quarterback Billy Bucek prevented an Aggie touchdown as he raced to cover the ball for a safety.
With neither team showing much offensive threat, those lone points appeared to be the deciding tally until A&M chose to punt as time ran out at the end of the third quarter to take advantage the the wind. Speer was standing at his own 40 and proceeded towards the Rice sideline before bouncing off several shivering would-be tacklers and the setting sail for the north end zone for a touchdown. He then settled himself to convert the point after to give the Owls their margin of victory.
Rice would go on to face yet another ranked team (10th ranked TCU) the following week, falling 35-6 before ending the year with a close 23-21 defeat to Baylor to end the year 1-7-2. The Aggies would end the year winless in the conference after a 20-17 loss to Texas, meaning Speer's unique afternoon had place the Owls one spot ahead of the Aggies in the final SWC standings.
With the beginning of the 2014 season on the horizon, Rice sophomore volleyball standout Chelsey Harris had time to look back on a summer of a lifetime that saw her play in Europe while representing the U.S. These are the words of Chelsey Harris...
I set off for the Olympic Training Center this year in Colorado Springs, CO with hopes of having a great three days of volleyball at the open
tryout for the US Women's National Team. Soon after in April, I was informed that I made the roster for the U.S. Collegiate Women's National Team of 36 representatives to play in Minneapolis, MN. I was extremely thankful to know that my performance at the tryout had granted me the opportunity to perform with such amazing players and learn such amazing things from a group of awesome coaches. I was anxious, and extremely eager to get on the road and train with these athletes and experience what was considered to be another shot at trying to get on the National Team roster.
After being informed about my place on the Minneapolis roster, as
well as the roster for the college national team traveling to Europe, I
reflected on a previous time in which I had the opportunity to represent the U.S. in Des Moines, Iowa at the High Performance Championships at the junior level.
That meant so much to me at the time, and it was a huge deal because it was then that I decided that I ultimately wanted to
continue representing USA as a volleyball player. I really looked forward to
representing the U.S. now that I had started my college career and I had had time
to grow. I was so thankful and ecstatic knowing that my performance at the
tryout in Colorado Springs had not gone unnoticed. Knowing my performance had
been worthy enough to make these rosters gave me chills, because I remembered
how overwhelmed I felt at the tryout. During the tryouts, I continually had thoughts
about the evaluation, and how intense it must have been for the staff to
somehow manage effectively evaluating over 200 players in such a small
amount of time.
Reflecting on my time in Minneapolis, I would say that the time
I spent there was very valuable. After a few training days, we were split off
into three teams, where we would compete against one another at the Junior
National Championships. As soon as my team had gotten together, it seemed like
we were automatically in sync and we had it all together during the first
few sessions we trained together. We were winning scrimmages and we were immediately
successful. However, toward the end of the championships, we ran into trouble
in terms of how we should take steps and aim toward maintaining the spark we
were showing beforehand once our performance was lacking. I felt like the
discussions we began to have and various expressions of each of our team's
members were very similar to the discussions of our volleyball program here at
Rice. It was definitely a great privilege to be able to share thoughts with these players outside of Rice, getting to establish relationships with them, and essentially getting to listen and have open dialogue about important parts of the game with them.
The experience was very helpful for me and I've gained
some great insight on the importance of becoming a great teammate and catering
to a teams needs. Evaluation of what works and what doesn't for a team is
extremely critical in volleyball when you have hopes of making great
achievements like I do for the volleyball program at Rice. Most of the players
had more years of experience, which especially made the information they were
sharing with me appreciated. Even though I had less than a week between my
Minneapolis trip and Europe, I had goals of keeping my insight from the
Minneapolis trip in mind as I departed for my next trip.
Being selected for
the College National Team European Tour to represent the U.S. overseas is without
a doubt one of my biggest accomplishments. Participating in the annual Global
Challenge Tournament in Pula, Croatia and having the opportunity to play under the coaching staff of UCLA's head women's volleyball coach Mike Sealy, Northern Colorado's Assistant
Head Coach Jenny Glenn, and Long Island's coach Kyle Robinson was phenomenal. I
realized very soon that coaching styles and attitudes of players in Europe were
very different than those of the U.S. Over
the course of the two weeks I spent overseas, I developed a new appreciation
for my ability to be able to play the sport I love and I learned so much about
individuals that are just as passionate about volleyball as myself. I was
afforded the opportunity to train and explore in multiple cities in Slovenia, Pula (Croatia) and also Venice, Italy. Being able to represent the country
in such amazing places this summer has really been a blessing, and the memories
I've made with the other collegiate athletes of the US will always be
cherished. I can honestly say that I'm extremely happy to have been able to
meet such amazing people both on and off of the court and the trips I've been
on this summer have afforded me relationships that will probably last a
lifetime! I'm looking forward to remaining in contact with my teammates, and
keeping up with them as our seasons go on. In addition, I'm also looking
forward to representing the USA more, with hopes of potentially fulfilling my
goal of possibly making the women's national team roster as well. Wearing a USA
jersey, giving my best effort, and going after it during practices and game
time will never get old to me, and I find comfort in knowing that I have time
to keep growing and working towards my goal.
Kan. - The initial 2,848 entrants into the
2014 U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship have whittled down to just 32,
including Rice sophomore Kevin Reilly,
following Wednesday's match play win in the Round of 64.
Reilly rallied from a pair of early deficits and led the entire
back nine en route to a two-up triumph over Ryann Ree (Redondo Beach, Calif.) at
the U.S. Amateur Public Links Championship.
Though the actual scores aren't reflected in the match play
format, Reilly tallied a 67 (-4) with six birdies to top Ree, who recently
completed his sophomore season at Oregon. In all, Reilly won six holes to Ree's
four and the competitors tied on the remaining 10.
The Oviedo, Fla. native advances to face 2014 Nebraska graduate Matt
Record, who tied for 20th at this season's Big Ten Championship. Record knocked
off his opponent with a one-up win in the group ahead of Reilly.
With his head coach acting as caddy for the event, Reilly breezed
through the opening two rounds of stroke play at 71-70--141 (-1). He claimed
17th place among the 1566 qualifiers at Sand Creek Station Golf Course.
The winner of Thursday's morning match will play again in the Round of 16 at 1:10 p.m. that afternoon.
USAPL Match Tree | USAPL Home | Reilly Tees Off USAPL Match Play (RiceOwls.com)
Friends and Supporters of Rice Athletics,
Thank you so much for the warm welcome Jill, Charlie, and I
have received since our arrival in Houston last fall. Your outreach and
kindness has helped us develop a deep affinity for the community we now call
home. We are grateful for all of your support.
Thank you as well to our Owl Club donors. As we look toward
the future, your support of Rice Athletics will be critical in helping us
realize our potential. I'm thankful for what you do to help our
student-athletes and coaches reach for success in all aspects of their lives.
Now that we're nearing the end of our spring season, I
wanted to share with you some of my observations and aspirations for Rice
Athletics. I've deliberately taken time to learn as much as I can about Rice,
what strengthens us, and where we need change. I'm very excited about what I've
First, let me say that David Leebron is a fantastic
president and partner. He cares deeply about the fortunes of our athletics
program, and he wants to win. He understands our challenges and has been very
supportive of our efforts to improve. I'm delighted to work with him. We
strategize together, we share some laughs, and we enjoy watching our students
perform at a high level.
Under David's leadership, Rice University fully supports our
efforts to be successful, and they continue to step up in new ways. Counting
the full cost of a grant-in-aid for our student-athletes, Rice underwrites
nearly two-thirds of our total operating budget. I think it's important to
recognize this, since we paid back the full cost of scholarships to the
university at my previous institution. Rice has also provided the funding for a
new artificial turf in Rice Stadium and helped us with compensation packages
for our conference championship football staff. What Rice University
contributes to the athletics program in the way of tuition, operational
support, and enhancements is astounding, and we should be grateful for it.
For our programs to grow and prosper into the future, we
need to generate more support from the surrounding communities. We must sell more
tickets and recruit new donors to the Owl Club. Our current ticket and donation
revenue streams will need to generate three times our current rate for us to
have the resources we need to be competitive in 2020 and beyond. We will commit
to funding the positions and technology to make that happen beginning next
I believe we have reached a period of relative stability
regarding conference realignment. The Pac-12, Big 12, Big Ten, ACC, and SEC
have each brokered agreements with their member institutions regarding the
grant of media rights. These rights agreements stretch 10 years or more,
meaning that institutions from these conferences have given their first,
second, and sometimes third-tier media rights to the conference for the next
decade. Such grants typically preclude institutions from moving to a different
conference, since their rights are owned by their current conference. We've
also seen these five conferences move to a model of equal revenue-sharing, such
that any new members would need to bring a pro-rata share to the existing
For Rice, conference affiliation isn't the primary goal
anyway. Our aspiration is to win conference championships and finish in the top
25 in each of our 16 varsity sports. While staying true to the values of Rice
University, we will pursue any opportunities that enhance our ability to be a
national caliber athletics program. For us to be great, and to do so with some
degree of consistency and sustainability, we have to invest in areas where we
can grow revenues and then be very careful about where we allocate the
incremental resources we generate.
I'm very bullish on the future of Rice Athletics. We can and
will win. We have a supportive president who values the merits of a successful
athletics program. We have coaches and staff who are committed
to teaching the values of leadership, teamwork, perseverance, and hard work. We
have a talented and motivated group of student-athletes. And we have an
enthusiastic community of friends, fans, and alumni who care deeply about the
university and success of Rice Athletics. I'm honored to serve as your director
of athletics, and I look forward to partnering with you to ensure a successful
and sustainable future for our Rice Owls!
The Owls women's basketball squad tips-off the
2013-14 season tonight at Prairie View A&M at 7 p.m. and with it, the debut
of the new voice of Rice ladies hoops, Lane Zieben. The Houston, Texas native
is in his first season as a member of the Rice IMG Sports Network and we had a
few moments to get meet the newest Owl:
What type of radio background do you have?
LZ: I started broadcasting in high school at Elkins High School in Missouri
City in 2005. I then worked for Texas Sports (radio and television) at the
University of Texas (2006-2012) for six years calling women's basketball, volleyball,
soccer, and softball. I graduated from Texas in 2009 but continued calling
games after. I was hired as the first broadcaster for the Sugar Land Skeeters
Independent Minor League team in 2012. In total I've been involved in over 140
live broadcasts on the radio. I have also called games for Fox College Sports,
National Pro Fast Pitch Softball and Texas High School Football.
Q: What is your favorite broadcasting memory up
to this point?
LZ: Probably being able
to call Roger Clemens' comeback with the Sugar Land Skeeters last summer
(2012) at Constellation Field in Sugar Land. It was his first start since he
retired from MLB.
Q: What made the Rice job appealing to you?
LZ: I have been
fortunate enough to stay in the city I grew up in. There is a high standard of
excellence when it comes to academics at Rice, and I want to bring the same
expectations into the broadcast booth for a sports program that is growing
within the realm of college sports. IMG & Rice are giving me the
opportunity to evolve the position from what it has been in the past. Without
reinventing the wheel, I think I can help broaden the university's reach on the
Q: Who do you look up to in radio broadcasting?
LZ: Mike Tirico's versatility, Al Michaels' calming demeanor and Carter
Blackburn's delivery on the mic.
Q: What excites you the most about this upcoming
LZ: The stability Rice has returning from last year. Ten out of 13
players are returning, which provides great depth and team chemistry. Also, the
competition level rises with the additions to CUSA. Rice is in a great
position to be part of a bigger stage this year.
To listen to all Rice women's basketball
throughout the season, be sure to visit this link: http://client.stretchinternet.com/client/rice.portal#.
While the first classes are still two weeks away, there is a constant hum of activity around the athletic facilities on South Main.
Starting at the crack of dawn, members of the Rice football, soccer and volleyball teams are feverishly preparing for the start of seasons that are filled with promise and heightened expectations, based upon the predictions of conference coaches.
Each will open this season riding a wave of momentum generated in 2012-13 year not only in competition, but in the support of members of the Owl Club, who stepped up in record numbers in their support of Rice Athletics:
Owl Club members generated an increase of 26% in their annual giving, donating over $1.8 million in fiscal 2012 and an increase of 64% from fiscal 2010 when the benefit structure of the Owl Club was modified.
1146 donors made gifts to the Owl Club, 242 more than fiscal year 2012.
SIG annual fundraising improved to a combined $929,430 in FY13 from $855,936 in FY12 (9% growth).
Combined annual fundraising (Owl Club and SIGs) $2.75m, 20% increase from FY12.
RiceOwls.com and the R Blog will soon chronicle record-breaking performances by the Owls in competition, but it only seems fitting before the competitions begin to acknowledge the record-setting efforts off each member of the Owl Club. .
Rice tennis player
Dominique Harmath is representing Canada at the 2013 World University Games in
Kazan, Russia and will be sending updates throughout her time at the games:
I can sum up these two amazing weeks as simply as this: Hard work pays off.
The opportunity to play at the World
University Games was worth everything I put into the sport of tennis. I was
able to compete at a very high level of competition and experiences like this
continue to motivate me to play the sport I love.
Russian culture was intriguing to see and I really enjoyed experiencing it up
close. At the same time, the games had a unique culture all its own. Gear trading certainly was a large part of the
experience. Hundreds of athletes would gather in the center of the village
every night to swap clothing. I made some good deals with athletes from Uruguay,
Australia, Portugal, and Brazil.
But more than just while trading
items, what was most fascinating was seeing the improvisation in communication
taking place between different countries. You would see Serbians communicating
with the Croatians, and the Brazilians, Spaniards, Italians, and French with
each other. Without knowing each other's language, the athletes would still
find a way to communicate.
trip ended with the closing ceremony that proved to be another one for the
books. It included a recap of some gold medal moments that gave the entire
stadium goose bumps. It was another reminder of why athletes train so
hard. The feeling of euphoria that comes
with success makes everything worthwhile.
reading along these past two weeks. I
know it's a long flight, but I am looking forward to getting home again. It's hard to believe that the start of my
senior year is just around the corner.
I missed yesterday, which was successful but very busy. I started with my
opening match in singles consolation, which I won 6-0, 6-0 over a girl from New
Zealand and then Isade Juneau and I opened play in mixed doubles against a team
from Madagascar and won 6-4., 6-2.
wish I could say our momentum carried over in mixed doubles today, but we lost
a heartbreaker to the fifth seeded team from Korea. We won the first set 6-3, but they came back
to win the second, and then won the tiebreaker 10-12. I'm not done with my tennis, since I play Ellie
Yates from USC (editor's note: a number
of American collegiate teams are representing American in various events in
Kazan. Yates was a combined 14-2 as a
freshman for USC, primarily playing #6 singles).
continues to surprise me. Despite the language barrier, we seem to be managing with
hand gestures. It took us some time to order a McFlurry from McDonalds today
and after we were able to get the basic message across, we gave the cashier
the decision of choosing our flavor. The ice cream was well worth the
also ventured outside the athlete's village gates for the first time and took a
cab to the Canada-Russia soccer game. Driving in Russia is nothing like driving
in America, but on the other hand, the soccer game kept us on edge. We were
well out-numbered in the stands but were highly entertained with the the Russian chants going back and forth from one side of the stadium to the
were also able to watch some gold medal events and at the end of this buys day,
I seem to have lost my voice after all the cheering.
atmosphere of the games is continuously energizing and I'm looking forward to
the week ahead.
had an off day today from competition so I spent the time cheering on my
teammates at the tennis courts.
then moved to cheer Canada on in water polo and men's soccer. As you can see
from the photo to the left, the atmosphere was fantastic and full of energy
with cheer battles going on left and right between fans for each country.
soccer team tied Brazil 1-1 to move on to the playoffs. I'm hoping to support
my fellow Americans in some events when I get the chance as well.
I will be playing my mixed doubles and singles consolation match tomorrow so it
will be a busy day on the courts.
That's all for today
After another long wait because of
the rain, I finally was able to get on the court to play my first singles
match, but as you might have seen from the scores, things did not go well for
me. I lost 6-2, 6-0.
I definitely had my chances, but I
have to give my opponent from Korea (Mirea Ham) a lot of credit. She was a solid player all through the match.
I still have the consolation draw in
singles to play and on Thursday we open Mixed Doubles play. Tomorrow will be a day devoted to rooting on
my teammates on the Canadian Tennis team, as well as cheering for Canada in
water polo and soccer.
It was a long day waiting for the
rain to stop and I am pretty tired, so that's about it for today.
Talk to you tomorrow,
My first match was rained
out today! We waited around for five hours before they finally
postponed things but we found a funny way to kill the time. While we sat there waiting for some updates,
the volunteers at the tournament venue began approaching us.
Despite the language
barrier, two of my Canadian teammates Phil (Anderson who plays at New Mexico) and
Isade (Juneau who played for Indiana) had no problem entertaining the crowd with
their combined total of three words they knew in Russian and Tartar. The photo on the right shows them entertaining
They're calling for rain
tomorrow as well, but I'll keep my fingers crossed it doesn't come back. I'm
scheduled to not start before 11 am. (2 a.m. Houston time).
Thanks and I will check
was one of the best days of my life so far. The festivities began when we
arrived at the stadium and had to wait 2.5 hours before we could walk. We made
exceptional use of that time to trade pins with other countries and met some
great people along the way.
the opening ceremony rolled around it was much more than I expected with more
than 45k in attendance. The show included a performance from Cirque de Soleil
and a speech from Vladimir Putin, the president of the Russian Federation.
was even more surreal was the fact that I was able to play a part in the whole
event, walking a lap around the stadium with Team Canada waving to the cheering
crowd. It was definitely a night to remember.
Vine video that I took from our seats: https://vine.co/v/hW0bJTqXXHa
another video shot by the Canadian Interuniversity Sport: http://youtu.be/c_3zEKjNomg
for singles come out today and competition begins on Monday at 9 a.m. Kazan
time, which is nine hours ahead of Houston time. Here is the schedule and results link: http://english.cis-sic.ca/universiade/summer/2013/sports/tennis/sched_results
Cameron Nwosu honored former Owl O.J. Brigance by switching
to his jersey number prior to the 2012 season and wearing it proudly through a
season that concluded with a win in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl.
Last weekend in Baltimore, he found a way to further honor
Brigance, whose battle against ALS inspired the Baltimore Ravens to a Super
Bowl Championship, by presenting his Armed Forces Bowl jersey to him.
Nwosu and Brian Raines '09, another former Owl linebacker
who drew comparisons to Brigance during his playing career, flew to Baltimore along
with Donald Bowers '91, who was a teammate of Brigance's at Rice, to attend the
7th Annual Fiesta 5K for ALS
Research on May 4.
Brigance and his wife, Chandra, served as co-chairs for
the event which saw over 2,300 participants raise over $410,000 for the Robert
Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins. The Center is the only
international research organization dedicated solely ALS research.
Raines presented a check from money raised during the
recent Football Lettermen's Golf Tournament for the Brigance Brigade, but Nwosu
knew he was not coming to Baltimore empty handed.
"Donald Bowers came up with the idea in March to attend
the event, and I was excited about the chance to go and support O.J.," Nwosu
said. "After we made sure everything was cleared through the NCAA, I couldn't
wait for the weekend to get here."
Nwosu knew immediately that he would present the jersey
he wore in the Armed Forces Bowl to Brigance and told Bowers of his plan, but
only if it remained a secret. He had the
jersey dry cleaned and carried it with him to Baltimore.
"You could see his face light up when I showed it to him
and then said it was his," Nwosu recalled. "It was a very special moment for me
to do that for him. He means a lot to me and to this University."
Nwosu immediately experienced Brigance's well-known quick
"He looked at it for a second and saw how small they are
and asked me if it really fit me," Nwosu recalled. "It was a funny moment."
Raines also made note of Brigance's humor.
"I had a wonderful time seeing all the individuals he
inspires at the walk, but the best part of the weekend was spending time with
O.J. telling jokes with everyone. "
Bowers, Nwosu and Raines were not the only Owls on hand
to support Brigance in Baltimore.
They were joined for the event by football lettermen Courtney
Cravin '92 and Will Hollas '90, tennis letterwinner Liz Sulzberger Hollas '91,
as well as George Hall '81 and Kelsie McVea McQuietor '91.
enjoyed a fantastic weekend at the Fiesta 5K," Brigance said. "I was so blessed
to be surrounded by my Rice family. I had a great time connecting with old
friends and meeting the next generation of Owls. Cameron is a phenomenal young
man and I was touched by his jersey presentation."
Brigance has received countless accolades and honors in his
career, including a pair of Super Bowl rings, the Distinguished Alumni Award
from Rice and the support from many as he continues his fight against ALS. Through his own efforts with the Brigance
Brigade and his support of the research at Robert Packard Center for ALS, he
has led the charge to support fellow ALS patients as well as for research on
During their run to the Super Bowl title in February, the Ravens
repeatedly referenced Brigance as a source of inspiration. He won a Super Bowl ring as a player with
Baltimore and then joined the front office after retiring. He remains in his role as the Raven's Senior
Director of Player Development and head coach John Harbaugh called Brigance "a
shining light in our building".
His impact on the Rice program will remain intact as well as
Nwosu takes the field again this fall wearing #57 in his honor.