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Super Bowl storytime

Andrew Gastelum | Thursday, February 3, 2011

Somewhere, there is always a story to be told. As an aspiring journalist this is something that I hold dear. I could write a feature story about any one of you reading this column (yes, all five of you), because there is something interesting that makes you tick. So here in this space, as America’s unofficial holiday approaches (aka Super Bowl Sunday) I will tell the stories of people that I have never met, so that you feel like you just did.

Every fan thinks they know the story behind Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. His story is being the guy who followed the legend. But what you may not know is how he even got the opportunity. Coming out of high school, Rodgers received as many Division I football scholarships as I did. Zip.

So he continued his dream, playing for Butte Community College in northern California, where Cal coach Jeff Tedford noticed him and brought him back to the Bay Area. But the funny part was that Tedford wasn’t there to recruit Rodgers, but Butte’s tight end. Rodgers simply tagged along for the ride. And what a ride it has been. I guarantee that if you told that community college coach that his gunslinger would one day be starting in the Super Bowl he would have bet his house against it.

Do I even need to tell the troubled story of Rodgers’ opposing quarterback?

Well maybe of one of his receivers then — a key contributor in the Steelers’ third Super Bowl trip in six years. At first glance, Hines Ward seems like the standard guy walking down the street at 6-feet tall. But check his fingers because he already has two Super Bowl rings, built by a reputation as one of the league’s toughest. But his story is a bit more complicated, being born in South Korea to an African American father and a Korean mother. In school Ward was a loner, denied by the Koreans for being African American and shunned by the African Americans for being Korean. But he found solace in football, going on to a 13-year career in the NFL while missing only six games in his career.

From one receiver to another, Packers wide-out and consummate hard worker Donald Driver is a fan-favorite around the league. But few know that as a kid, he sold drugs on the streets of Houston to provide for his family. Football brought him out of this life, relying on a simple imperative to get him to the NFL: Make it.

This piece could go on forever, but since we are snowed in, try reading up on Clay Matthews, James Harrison and Tramon Willams. Because for these guys who take the field Sunday, a childhood dream that was never supposed to come true will be fulfilled. Who said there is no such thing as a happy ending?

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Andrew Gastelum at agastel1@nd.edu