Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: in your mouth...
Member Number: 658
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possible replacement for jeromes role?
im not talking about replacing willie or jeromes career stats, but this guy seems like he would be the perfect addition and replacement for the role jerome had for his final 2 seasons. peter king wrote this after rutgers upset #3 louisville
About an hour after the game, I got to meet the poster child for this moment -- a kid named Brian Leonard. You probably have heard of him in this wave of post-Thursday Rutgersmania. (I am not exaggerating when I say that in my town, Montclair, about eight miles west of the Meadowlands and 30 miles north of the Rutgers campus, interest in the Rutgers-Louisville game tripled interest in the Giants-Bears game last week.) The Leonard story has been told far and wide, but here is the very abridged version.
After his older brother went to Rutgers and loved it, Brian spurned Notre Dame to attend Rutgers in '02 ... and the Knights promptly went 1-11. One night, when some partiers discovered a football player's car was near, Brian got a beer bottle smashed on the roof of his car. He worked himself into a 6-2, 235-pound fullback, and after totaling 1,308 rushing/receiving yards and 17 touchdowns last year, thought seriously about declaring for the NFL draft. People in the know said he'd be a third-round pick, maybe second. But Leonard said no, he'd stay for his fifth season. He told a Rutgers basketball crowd at halftime of a January game that he was coming back to play in a BCS game. And this fall, as the closest thing Rutgers football has ever had to a cult hero, Leonard has seen RU grad James Gandolfini wearing his number 23 jersey to football games.
On this night, the game was tied at 25 with 2:18 to play. Rutgers had the ball at its 35, third and six. The most important third-down conversion of the year was about to be attempted. If Rutgers converted, the Knights would at least be able to play for overtime while keeping it away from Louisville. If Rutgers failed, Louisville would have enough time and timeouts to get into field-goal range -- provided the Cards could move the ball better than they had throughout a listless second half. Though the most explosive offensive player on the team clearly had become Rice, Schiano wanted the ball in the hands of his most trusted player on the biggest play of the night. Leonard took a swing pass up the right side, got great blocking and plowed 26 yards. Now it was a matter of time.
? Nov. 11, 2005: Louisville 56, Rutgers 5. With a 49-5 lead in the fourth quarter, Louisville throws seven passes on a 97-yard drive to a final touchdown. There are some stupid things you can do in college football, but kicking a rising team when it's down by throwing with a 44-point lead and a few minutes left is one of the big ones. Nice motivation, Cards.
"Sickest feeling I've ever had in my life,'' Leonard says.
The minicams, four of them, jostled with the print reporters last Thursday to get in a question to Leonard, a polite kid who patiently explained what this night meant.
"This is why I came back,'' he said. "This night. This game. My dream's coming true right now. I've been through the worst around here. My first year, we went 1-11. We had people swearing at us. I had my car smashed with a beer bottle. And tonight I stood on the field after we beat the number three team in the country, watching our fans swarm all over us. People thought I was nuts for staying here instead of going to the NFL, but no money can buy this feeling I have right now. None.''
The waves leave, and it's me and him now. I asked him if he was happy that he stayed, even though his draft stock might have fallen as his stats plummeted this year with Rice emerging.
"Very,'' he said. "This is the happiest day of my life.''
His voice began to waver.
"This is a dream we're all living right now, a dream you can't put a price on. I'm the type of guy who feels like every moment is good, no matter what the stats are.[B] Blocking for Ray is good. The little catches are good. The moment is good. This win is good. I love it all.
"The NFL's good. Money's good. But I never had money growing up. My family didn't have money. My mom's an accountant. My dad's a cable guy. They don't care that they weren't rich. They're the two happiest people on the planet. They live life the way it should be lived and passed that on to their kids. Money doesn't buy happiness. I'll tell you what is happiness to me: Jumping up and down on the 50-yard line, right on the "R,'' surrounded by three cops and my teammates. That's happiness.''
One last NFL thought from Leonard: "I don't like the 'me' guys very much. This is the biggest team sport in the world. I don't understand why a team fights so hard to get to the end zone, and one guy scores, and he just wants to celebrate by himself. He should be celebrating with his team, shouldn't he?''
I walked out of the stadium that night thinking: Once Tom Brady gets to know about Brian Leonard, he'll politic for the Pats to draft him next year. What a perfect sledgehammer and safety valve for the Patriots.
Or, for that matter, for any of the other NFL teams. I have a feeling we'll be seeing an influx of Leonard and his pals in the NFL in the next few years. But guys, we can wait. Enjoy this while you can. It'll never be better.
ive never really watched him play but this dude sounds like he was born to be a steeler. (especially if his stock plummets to beyond the 3rd round.