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FOOTBALL: Weis grants a young Irish fan’s final wish

Mike Gilloon | Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Faced with first-and-10 from his own 1-yard line, Charlie Weis had a decision to make. Should he listen to his coaching instincts and run up the middle, creating room for the Irish offense to maneuver? Or should be listen to Montana?

The Notre Dame head coach chose the latter.

With a suggestion from Montana Mazurkiewicz, the Irish ran a bootleg right in the first play of Saturday’s game against Washington, resulting in a 13-yard completion from Irish quarterback Brady Quinn to tight end Anthony Fasano.

Sadly, Mazurkiewicz did not live to see the play. The 10-year old Mishawaka boy died Thursday from brain cancer.

Weis had received word from the University that the boy, named after legendary Irish quarterback Joe Montana and a passionate Notre Dame fan, was near-death, the coach said at his press conference Sunday.

So Weis stopped by the Mazurkiewicz’s house last Wednesday to visit with Montana, his brother Rockne and his mother Cathy. He brought with him “a couple T-shirts, hats and stuff,” hoping to make the child feel a little better.

It worked.

“I was able to get a couple smiles out of him,” Weis said. “His mom got to take a couple pictures. She said it was the first time he really smiled in about three months.”

Weis informed his players of the meeting Wed-nesday, using Montana as an example of who they represent as Notre Dame football players.

“To watch a kid that’s 10 years old only get a smile to his face because of his passion and love for Notre Dame football, that’s really a good moral to tell your own players,” Weis said. “It’s not just the University they’re representing, it’s all the people who support that University.”

During their encounter, Weis asked Montana if there was anything he could do for him. The boy requested a pass to the right on the first play of the game and Weis obliged.

After being notified of Montana’s death Thursday evening in Washington, Weis talked on the phone with Rockne. He promised to deliver an autographed football to the Mazurkiewicz household, which he did Sunday afternoon.

The situation inspired Weis to reflect on his own children, 12-year old Charlie and 10-year old Hannah.

“Knowing that I would do anything in the world for my kids, to watch this 10-year old … and the only thing that could get a smile out of him was the head coach from Notre Dame sitting there talking about Notre Dame football, it makes me feel really good that I went over there.

“I hope he’s smiling in heaven right now.”