Another side of the Super Bowl
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 7, 2006
As the Ogden horde was preparing for its exclusive Super Bowl Party this past Sunday, my children and my wife asked me which team they should “vote” for. We were holding our own party, since half of them were too sick to go to other parties to which we were invited. And because they assume that I am an objective observer in these matters, I suggested that they might want to place their spiritual affinities with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
I made that suggestion because I had long ago placed my loyalties in the Steelers camp for some very private reasons. Now, I know that the general feeling of sentiment in our fair Demopolis was for Seattle since the vaunted Shawn Alexander, another of the University of Alabama’s great products and this year’s NFL MVP, is the star and driving force behind the Seahawk’s success this year.
And Alexander is not only a great player – he is a class act which few can duplicate but, at the same time, which many should attempt to emulate.
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And I should have had some sentiment for Seattle since Heath Evans was on their roster until this year.
Heath was one of my “lambs”, as I called them, when I was at Auburn corralling the Tiger football players into study halls and attempting to improve their study skills.
But Heath is now a free agent and he did not play in Super Bowl XL.
By way of history, my coaching exploits have allowed me to work with eleven young men who have played in the various Super Bowls.
In fact, one year there were four of my “lambs” playing in America’s greatest sports spectacle.
It was through no great ability I possess, I can assure you, but it is nice to know that they remembered me enough to call and offer tickets.
Those of you who know me, also know that I live by the very simple directive uttered by one of football’s greatest and most legendary of coaches, Woody Hays of Ohio State, who said, “You can’t be a good coach, if you can’t be a good teacher.”
And upon reflection, I can honestly profess that no truer words about coaching have ever been uttered.
The list of those who prove this goes on endlessly – Bobby Bowden, Bear Bryant, Shug Jordan, Joe Paterno, Homer Rice, Bobby Dodd, Dick Vermeil, and that is just a small sample.
Here I feel compelled to add our own Coach Doug Goodwin to the list.
In my three-plus decades I have never seen a better high school coach/teacher than he is.
And I believe that this past year was evidence of his greatness because I believe that he did his best job of coaching this year.
As to my sympathies in any Super Bowl, they are tied to the players and coaches whom I know or whom I have coached or have coached with.
This year’s game was no different.
I was for the Pittsburgh Steelers because of Kendall Simmons the Steelers’ right offensive guard and Kimo Von Ohlhoffen, their right defensive tackle.
These are two young men who have been seasoned by trials of their own off the field and who have triumphed.
Kimo was a student of mine at the University of Americas, when I was President there, and who was finishing his degree.
He had started at Boise State in Idaho, but left early to play in the NFL.
Now, Kimo has three daughters and a fledgling construction company in Washington state, but he still found time to take extensive courses and complete his degree.
He could use the Super Bowl winning check to get the business on sound footing. Watching him get a couple of sacks did my heart good.
Kendall Simmons is a very shy, highly principled young man from Mississippi.
He was one of my “lambs” at Auburn.
His 6’3″ height packing in over 300 pounds would seem to reveal an ominous presence in any company.
He is soft-spoken, articulate and comes from a well-educated family.
Both of his parents have doctoral degrees.
When he first arrived at Auburn, his mother took time to meet with me and give me blanket authority to advise and to direct Kendall in his academic pursuits.
None of that was necessary, let me assure you.
I have not seen very many art majors with hands the size of Kendall’s, but I am certain that if there are any they do not possess the talent he has.
When he first brought me one of his projects, I was completely blown away.
Here was this huge young man who could command attention wherever he went merely by his physical presence, and he handed me one of the most delicate and detailed ink sketches I have ever seen!
This was the pinnacle of my career as an academic advisor for student-athletes.
In my eyes here was a latter-day noble warrior in my presence.
He could deal a vicious block and sketch a delicate flower.
He could trap block a huge defensive opponent and then construct a detailed portrait of a teammate!
Kendall was the Steelers’ first round draft in 2002 and did some really good things for them then.
Between the 2002 and 2005 seasons Kendall had knee surgery and was discovered to have Type B Diabetes.
Those two debilitating set-backs cost him the 2004 season.
But he came back strong in 2005 and played a great game in Sunday’s Super Bowl executing the key block that allowed a second-half 75 yard touchdown run to put the Steelers firmly in the lead.
Yes, I do enjoy Super Bowl games, but in many instances I enjoy them because of the “other” side of the performers’ successes.
And Kendall Simmons is one of those “other” sides that make the whole, colorful spectacle of the Super bowl have more meaning and more depth.
And thanks, Kendall!
Dr. Arthur G. Ogden is the Demopolis Campus Director of Alabama Southern Community College.
All his degrees are in philosophy.
He can be reached at email@example.com.