View Full Version : For Saginaw's LaMarr Woodley, dream comes true

02-02-2009, 09:31 PM
For Saginaw's LaMarr Woodley, dream comes true with Pittsburgh Steelers' Super Bowl win
by Mike Godard and Joe Walker | The Saginaw News
Sunday February 01, 2009, 11:52 PM

AP Photo/St. Petersburg Times, Dirk ShaddArizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner fumbles the football as he is sacked by Pittsburgh Steelers LaMarr Woodley during the final seconds of the fourth quarter of the NFL Super Bowl XLIII football game, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009, in Tampa, Fla.

Dreams do come true. Saginaw's LaMarr Woodley not only was on the winning Super Bowl team, the former Saginaw High School and University of Michigan standout made a key defensive play to force a fumble by Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner on the Pittsburgh Steelers' final defensive play of the game.

The Steelers won Super Bowl XLIII, 27-23, on Sunday night.

"It's a wild celebration here," said Woodley's mother Janice M. Staples, 48, moments after the game from the stands at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. "LaMarr's hard work paid off.

"I always hoped for him to be successful," she added. "I knew he had potential. Dreams do come true if you work hard."

"We were right behind the goalline," said Woodley's brother Tony Tatum. "I just cried when he got that last sack. He was willing to put his body and life on the line to make that play.

"My heart was in the bottom of my feet," Woodley's father, Terry L. Woodley, 52, said of the closing minutes of the game, when the lead changed hands twice. "I don't think I was breathing, then when (Pittsburgh) finally scored, it was a relief.

"I was sure the Cardinals would get a touchdown, but when LaMarr got the sack and forced the fumble, it was pure joy."

"That was special," he added. "All that hard work he did while he was growing up. Even when he wanted to quit when he first got to Michigan. He stuck it out and kept working hard."

Woodley's Saginaw High coach Don Durrett was quietly watching the Super Bowl from home Sunday night.

"This was great. It was like watching our state championship," Durrett said. "I had many opportunities to go places on Sunday but I take it seriously watching my kids. I want to be left alone when I watch them so I can critique them and at the same time tell them the things they did right.

"I have to give it too all my kids, especially LaMarr," he added. "It's just another dream come true for him. It shows that hard work done does pay off. He's worked so hard for it."

Staples was one of many fans that were a little scared when Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald scored a touchdown late in the game for the Cardinals first lead of the game.

"I said 'Oh, no,' " Staples said. "I couldn't watch it. I had my head buried in my 'Terrible Towel.'
AP Photo/Amy SancettaPittsburgh Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley reacts following a sack of Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner in the second quarter of the NFL Super Bowl XLIII football game, Sunday, Feb. 1, 2009, in Tampa, Fla.

"We still had time," she added. "What a great two minutes. I just can't explain it. It's really crazy here now."

The Cardinals had one last chance to take the win from the Steelers but Woodley was there at the end forcing the fumble. It was Woodley's second sack and fourth tackle of the game.

"He knocked that down. Did you see that?" Staples said. "I am so proud of the way he played. My head hurts so much because I was screaming so loud.

"There he is," said Staples, who saw Woodley on the field. "He has his daughter (Gabrielle) in his arms walking with her on the field."

"I almost got arrested (after the game)," Terry Woodley said. "I put one leg over the wall, and a security guard said, 'You can't do that.' But LaMarr gave him an intimidating talk, and we came out on the field."

The whole weekend was one of celebration and will continue through Sunday night.

"We met so many celebrities down here. I got a chance to meet the Rev. Jesse Jackson," said Staples. "Everyone was wonderful. They have a celebration planned for us at the hotel. I probably won't get a chance to see LaMarr until then."

Tatum, an R & B singer, teamed Woodley with rapper Snoop Dogg on Saturday for the "Snoop Bowl VII." The annual event Snoop Dogg has put on has raised more than $50,000 for charity.

"I know LaMarr and Snoop are very passionate about kids," Tatum said. "I felt if that I can connect the two of them together they can help kids in California and all they back to Saginaw -- even around the world."

Sharing the moment with family and friends, 15 of LaMarr's biggest fans, was special for Terry Woodley.

"That was the great part, we had uncles and grandparents, and it's something we'll never forget," he said. "We're here at the Super Bowl, the Steelers win and LaMarr gets two sacks."

Terry Woodley plans to return to Saginaw today, with a drive to Pittsburgh for the victory parade in the works ... and maybe a trip to the White House.

"I'm thinking about the trip to Washington, I might have to make that one, too," Terry Woodley said.

"But I really can't wait to see that Super Bowl ring and try it on."

Staples plans to arrive back in Saginaw around 1:30 p.m. today.

"We're leaving Monday morning," Staples said. "I have to bowl tomorrow night at State Lanes."

No doubt, where she will talk about her "Super Bowling" weekend.

Mike Godard and Joe Walker are sports writers for The Saginaw News. You may reach them at 776-9768, mgodard@thesaginawnews.com or jwalker@thesaginawnews.com