Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 5/29/13
When thinking about my next football article, I was thinking about a friend of mine from high school, Brent Paulhus, who passed away yesterday (Tuesday May 28) from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.  From the ALS website, “ALS is a disease that is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord.”  He beat the disease for over 10 years, which with a life expectancy of 2-5 years, shows how big a heart he has Brent was 5’6” and weighed 120 pounds in High school, but he and his twin brother Bryan and brother Jeff could do more things than people bigger, stronger or faster could do, even on the football field.  Brent was a duel threat as a running back and wide receiver who was not afraid to take the ball up the middle on a carry or swing out of the back field on a screen pass.  Here are a few examples of the greatest players that were probably told more than once they were too small, or not big enough to play football only to show incredible heart and determination and prove the doubters wrong. #1 Barry Sanders – RB Detroit Lions 5’8” Barry is a member of both the Pro and NCAA Football Halls of Fame for his play starting at Oklahoma State and then in the NFL for the Detroit Lions. Despite his lack of size, he used his amazing ability to find holes in the line and strength to break tackles most would have gone down from.  His Thanksgiving Day twisting and cutback run he did to New England Patriots CR Ronnie Lippett made him look like he was trying to find someone in a closet, but no one was there. He is the 3rd on the all time list of rushing yards, and would have past both Walter Payton and Emmitt Smith, if he did not retire in 1999.  Sanders can now enjoy life watching his son Barry Sanders Jr. as he plays for Stanford this coming year.  He set 34 NCAA records, and while with the Lions he rushed for over 1,500 yards an NFL record five times and had his #20 jersey retired by the Lions, one of only 6 to have their number retired. #2 Darrell Green – CB Washington Redskins 5’9” Green, who widely known for two things, the first for being one of the fastest players in NFL history, and the second as an “Ageless Wonder” playing cornerback for the Washington Redskins 20 years.   His record of consecutive seasons with an interception (19) will most likely never be broken as most players today don’t just play that long anymore, but they also don’t stay that effective for that period of time. Darrell was enshrined into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008, and is a four time fastest player in the NFL, in which he went undefeated.  He was part of two Super Bowl Championships and played in a third.  He was named an All Pro four times and the pro Bowl a total of seven times.  He is considered one of the best cornerbacks even despite his lack of height. #3 Darren Sproles – RB New Orleans Saints 5’6” Sproles, who is currently with the New Orleans Saints after 5 years with the San Diego Chargers has led the league in all purpose yards four times, including in 2011 where he set the NFL record for all purpose yards in a season where he amassed 2,696 total yards with highs in rushing and receiving.  Darren is used mainly as the third down specialist, but always seems to find a way to come through in the clutch for QB Drew Brees. He is one of the smallest players in NFL history and only one of nine who returned both a punt and a kickoff in the same game. These player’s results show you don’t need to be tall and big to be effective.   Showing you have the heart and skills can make up for size.  For my friend Brent, even though he did not play beyond high school like these amazing players, he did show me those traits and ability that do come in all packages. I am proud to be able to call him a friend.
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