WORDS OF WISTROM
At the annual B'nai B'rith award banquet held last month at the Qwest Arena in Omaha, former Husker great Grant Wistrom was the featured speaker. He talked about growing up in Webb City, Missouri with his parents and two brothers, Chance and Tracey. He also said how the values he learned growing up in Missouri enabled him to become successful later on in life.
To be sure, during his four year career at Nebraska, the Huskers had an amazing 49-2 record, won three national championships and were one of the most dominating teams in the history of college football. With the addition of the '97 Lombardi Trophy, Grant Wistrom had an unparalleled record of accomplishment as a Husker.
At the banquet that night, he told a story about the time after a Husker Bowl game ('97 Orange?) that he and Jason Peter decided to get some body piercing. For Jason, it was his tongue and Grant; his eyebrow. Things were going fine until Grant's eyebrow became infected, causing his face to swell up so huge that he couldn't even talk.
Such were the stories.
And after his Husker career ended, Wistrom was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the first round of the '98 draft. The Rams, by the way, had a dismal 5-11 record in '97. And by becoming a Ram, he went from one of the best football programs in the country, to one of the worst.
But not too worry, by the time he left the NFL nine years later (St. Louis and Seattle), he had played in two NFC championship games (winning one), played in three Super Bowls, winning one in 2000 with the St. Louis Rams.
Since his "graduation" from pro football, Grant heads the Grant Wistrom Foundation that was created to help children afflicted with cancer.
LESS IS MORE
His speech was good, but by the time the MC let Grant speak, it was already late in the evening. So late that Wistrom was still speaking after 10 p.m. Unfortunately, many people because it was a week night, dashed out of the Qwest before he had finished.
Here are a couple of suggestions that would make next year's banquet much better. First of all, have fewer speakers and shorter speeches. And more importantly, the MC needs to significantly shorten his long-winded introductions of each speaker.
Should B'nai B'rith ever consider replacing the current MC, they don't have to look very far. Kevin Kugler, who among his many duties co-hosts "Big Red Wrap Up" (NETV) and "Unsportsmanlike Conduct" (1620 The Zone) and does radio play by play for Westwood One, would make a terrific MC.
Is anyone listening?
A BIG RED MAVERICK
Also at the B'nai B'rith social, I had a chance to visit with Trev Alberts, recently named the new A.D. at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. I've heard some comments from Maverick fans who think Trev is just going to use the UNO job to pad his resume and leave for greener pastures. To that, I say I hope he does. Not that I want him to leave, but Trev is young (38) and I would be amazed if UNO is his last career stop . If UNO can get four or five good years out of him, Trev will have more than paid for UNO's investment. Trev's name can get UNO's foot into a lot of doors it otherwise couldn't.
As a UNO alumnus, I wish you the best of luck, Trev!
THE EX FACTOR
Last week, I had a chance to visit with a couple of ex-Husker football stars, Brenden Stai and Steve Warren. Both are class acts and are great representatives of the State of Nebraska and the Husker football program.
Brenden Stai, an offensive guard at Nebraska from '91-'94, helped anchor one of the best O-lines in Husker history. He helped start the "Pipeline" tradition of great Nebraska offensive lines. During his career, the Huskers went 42-6-1, winning Tom Osborne's first national championship in 1994. He played 13 years in the NFL for the Steelers, Jaguars and Lions before retiring from the Redskins after the 2002 season.
Currently, Brenden works with another former Husker great, Aaron Graham (center, '92-'95) for Premier Outdoor Properties, a company that specializes in real estate property to be used for outdoor activities such as hunting, fishing and horse back riding. When not doing real estate, Brenden is involved with the Tiny Hands Ministry, an organization devoted to helping poor children all over the world.
Brenden is sponsoring a golf tournament next month to help raise money for Tiny Hands. For more information about the tournament, you can email Brenden at: email@example.com
THE PLAY'S THE THING
Brenden told me a story about the '95 Orange Bowl when the Huskers were on the verge of giving Tom Osborne his first national championship. The offensive line had been pounding on the Miami defense for over three quarters. At every time out or dead ball, Warren Sapp and his teammates were seen gasping for air. Nebraska was dominating the line of scrimmage so much that Husker quarterback Tommie Fraizer would tell the Miami defenders where the Huskers' next play was going to be run.
"We're comin' your way again," Tommie would say. And of course, there was nothing the Hurricanes could do to stop the Huskers.
PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM
Brenden also told about the '94 Husker game at Kansas State. If you will recall, Tommie Fraizer was sidelined with blood clots and Brook Berringer was out with a collapsed lung leaving Matt "The Turmanator" Turman as the only healthy starting quarterback. And in the first half of the game, even Matt was injured. To compound the situation, Husker I-back Lawrence Phillips could hold the ball with only one hand. So Brook,collapsed lung and all, started the second half but was clearly limited in what he could do.
"We had so many injuries, we had to keep the offense simple. We ran the same play-a '44 Iso'-about 39 times in that game!" Brenden said. And as every good Husker fan knows, Nebraska went on to win that game 17-6.
Steve Warren is another ex-Husker player I had a chance to speak with last week. Warren (DT, '96-'99), who played parts of three years with the Green Bay Packers, was forced by injuries to retire from football in August of 2003.
Warren comes from a strong military family. His dad is a retired Viet Nam vet. He has a brother in law who served one year in Iraq and another one who recently signed up for the Army Infantry.
Steve is currently working for Dream Omaha (www.dreamomaha.org), an organization he founded that is dedicated to developing relationships, educating and mentoring children in the Omaha community.
HUSKER DAN'S ARMY NEEDS YOUR HELP!
GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS
The good news is that because of last week's column about Husker Dan's Army sending Husker Care Packages to troopers serving in the Middle East, we received a ton of requests from troopers wanting to be added to our HDA mailing list.
The bad news is, we don't have enough money to handle the demand. I've had to tell these brave men and women to wait until we get additional funds.
If you'd like to contribute to this great cause, please send your checks to:
Northeast Kansans For Nebraska
3610 SW Woodvalley Terrace
Topeka, KS 66614
Make your checks payable to:
Northeast Kansans For Nebraska
Att: Husker Dan's Army
Remember, all donations are tax deductible. HDA is an all volunteer organization. Every dollar we get goes directly to helping our troopers overseas. They don't ask for much. Can you please help us with this great cause?
Readers who log onto HuskerPedia each day to get the latest in Husker football information don't have to pay one cent for this great site. Ask yourself this: How many years have you been enjoying Huskerpedia? Donating to Husker Dan's Army is a way you can show your appreciation to HuskerPedia and to our men and women in the military who make untold sacrifices for all of us. Thanks!
WORDS OF WISTROM