This has nothing to do with anything, except the way my mind works. You think of Santonio Holmes, the Super Bowl MVP from the Pittsburgh Steelers, and what comes to your mind is the receiver the Eagles don't have. I think of Santonio Holmes and I think of Andre Waters.
I know, I know, it's dumb. But they both come from Belle Glade, Fla. It sounds like a desperate place, at least parts of it. If you were reading this week, you read about Holmes and how he sold drugs on the street corner as a little kid. It's a heartbreaking kind of story -- and that's not to say that Holmes is any kind of a prince, with arrests for domestic violence, disorderly conduct and marijuana possession in the last couple of years. But I hear "Belle Glade" and the first thing I think of is Andre.
As you know, Waters committed suicide a couple of years ago, and studies on his brain tissue since then have indicated that had a brain similar to that of an aging Alzheimer's patient. All of that was brought up again last week in another medical study of the potentially devastating effects of football and concussions. It's such a sad story. Because Andre was a survivor kind of a guy -- a borderline-to-dirty player, yes, but pretty up-front and not at all devious. There was a simplicity about the guy as well as an earnestness. He came from nothing, and Buddy Ryan gave him a chance and he made himself into something. He would have loved to coach in the league forever but he could never catch on. He had a couple of college gigs but couldn't stick. He was climbing down the coaching ladder at the end, not up.
Only later did we find out about the depression. Only after he died did it all become a little clearer. Andre might be giving his greatest gift to football in death, as the sports continues to wrestle with the silent scourge of concussions and the Waters case (among others) forces everyone to pay attention.
It's funny, the things that go through your mind when the team you cover isn't in the Super Bowl, and when the MVP is awarded to a guy from Belle Glade, Fla.