Returning the Favor and other Slices of Life

Returning the Favor
Returning the Favor
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Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Sometimes good things happen to good people, and sometimes it takes four years to make them happen. In January of 2003, Chris Leak won another state football championship at Independence High, the school right down the road from my house. This would be the third consecutive state championship for Leak and the Independence team, a streak that they've grown to seven championships and 108 games. Leak became the stuff of legend around here, the kind of kid that every sandlot and Pop Warner rugrat pretends to be.

Then he went to college, and a lot of it went to shit. After publicly committing to Florida after thestate championship game, Leak got there with coach Ron Zook, and if you aren't familiar with how that went, think about George Siefert's tenure with the Panthers. Not so good. Leak spent his first two years with a coach perennially on the way out the door and/or being burned in effigy. He spent his last two with wunderkind Urban Meyer's Utah spread offense, a scheme that most folks thought wouldn't work for Leak, who despite being only 6' tall, was considered a traditional drop-back passer. When Meyer brought in freshman Tim Tebow this year, he was cheered as often coming on to replace Leak as the team was coming onto the field to start the games.

But Leak never wavered. He didn't whine about playing time, he didn't whine about the new offense that wasn't suited to his talents, he didn't whine about never being considered a viable Heisman contender, he didn't whine because his name doesn't come up in the conversations about the first quarterback to be taken in next year's NFL draft. He just went to work. He studied film, he practiced his ass off, and he went from being an introverted kid to a team leader.

Oh yeah, and last night he beat the stuffing out of a team that all the geniuses around the country said he didn't deserve to share the field with, including the Heisman-winning OSU quarterback Troy Smith. It's a good day for Charlotte sports fans.

Congrats, Chris. And thanks. I took the over and the Gators.

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