Monthly Archives: July 2010
The elements that bind Oregon football are largely invisible, relationships forged behind closed doors through stress, repetition and sweat.
But there are glimpses, too, of others hidden in plain sight, found in loops of blue and gray rubber.
These are the bands that signify the bonds that connect the fifth ranked Oregon Ducks to something bigger, larger even than the high stakes chase toward the College Football Playoff they are on. cheap jerseys Naval Academy in Maryland.
Want to find the motivation behind some Ducks’ 2014 season? Look down at their wristbands and ask about names that adorn them: David Quessenberry and Alex Lam.
the final seconds ran off at the Rose Bowl on Oct. 11, center Hroniss Grasu delayed his celebration of Oregon’s victory against UCLA to search for No. 52 on the opposite sideline.
Grasu carried a message, one he’d been waiting to deliver ever since he first put on the gray wristband this summer, with the message “Quessenberry Strong” stamped on the outside and “BeatCancer” on the inside.
When he found Scott Quessenberry, Grasu flashed his band by way of introduction and told UCLA’s starting offensive guard what he’d long been meaning to say: “I’m just praying for your brother.”
was an unlikely scene, the Oregon All American expressing condolences for someone he’s never met, to a sibling he barely knew, but improbable is an apt descriptor of the last five months for David Quessenberry, 24, and the extended family of offensive linemen who have supported his recovery.
In May, the 2013 sixth round draft pick of the NFL’s Houston Texans was diagnosed with non Hodgkin’s T Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, an aggressive cancer with a nearly 70 percent survival rate, according to the National Cancer Institute.
“There’s always a reason why we’re doing what we’re doing,” Grasu said. “We always gotta find our ‘whys’. My ‘whys’ are my family and people like Quessenberry. Getting up in the morning sometimes you might feel sorry for yourself; it’s too early, you’re sore, you’re tired. For me, I think about him and what he goes through and how much he wishes he could just play football one more day. That gets me up.”
Why Oregon’s linemen consider themselves fast friends for someone they’ve never met is, in turn, because of Joe Bernardi and his family.
Bernardi, a second year graduate assistant at Oregon who works with linemen, has known Quessenberry since 2010, when his father, Gary, arrived with Mike MacIntyre’s staff at San Jose State and inherited Quessenberry, who was then a 235 pound, walk on tight end.
In the next three seasons at San Jose State, Quessenberry transformed into a 6 foot 5, 307 pound left tackle as sturdy as a wall, a team captain and first team all WAC selection, and the first Spartans lineman to earn an invitation to a Senior Bowl. Thirty two of his blocks led to touchdowns.
When he was drafted on April 27, 2013, by Houston with the eighth pick of the sixth round, the feel good story continued. One year later, his diagnosis changed all of that in an instant.
But that was also when Bernardi’s mother, Leigh, a former oncology nurse, came up with the idea to bind Quessenberry and his most ardent supporters together.
“I get kind of chills thinking about it,” Joe Bernardi said, pausing to collect himself. “David’s spirit is mind blowing. His outlook is that he’s going to be a Pro Bowler at some point and I mean that with 100 percent seriousness.
“He believes that he will win and that he’ll play in the National Football League and that he will go to a Pro Bowl. And I believe him 100 percent.”
The first order was for 400 bands. But then the Texans requested more than 100, and soon a second order was placed.
This summer, Bernardi told Oregon’s linemen about Quessenberry’s fight against cancer at a morning meeting, and showed them the bands. Usually, about six Ducks linemen are wearing their band over a wrap of athletic tape, from Grasu to tackle Andre Yruretagoyena and guard Cameron Hunt, who played with Scott Quessenberry, the UCLA lineman, at a high school all star game.
None has met David Quessenberry, but they empathize through what they do share a unity born from the “trench life” of being an offensive lineman, a position where selflessness and helping others is built in.
“O linemen on teams in general are tight knit,” Yruretagoyena said. “We just want to show love when we can.”
To Bernardi, the support “is making the point that offensive linemen near and far stick together,” but it also reinforces his own “why” behind the gesture.
“The greatest lesson I’ve learned in four years of coaching is that Xs and Os and scheme only go so far, but your role as a coach is being an impact in people’s lives,” he said, and as examples he shares his father and Oregon line coach Steve Greatwood, who regularly stay in contact with former players. “It goes on after their last play of their senior season.”
An estimated 700 bands have been distributed, from UCLA, Oregon and San Jose State to Colorado, where Gary Bernardi now coaches the Buffaloes’ offensive line, and Navy, where another Quessenberry brother, Paul, is a senior defensive end.
In a moment of scheduling serendipity last weekend, Navy and San Jose State played each other and UCLA and Colorado faced off, as well. In Boulder, Gary Bernardi wore his gray wristband and, underneath his Buffaloes polo, a blue T shirt bearing a red, white and blue shield and the words, “Houston is DQ Strong.” Decals with “DQ” were added to Colorado’s helmets for the week.
Meanwhile, Quessenberry continues his chemotherapy treatment in Houston, working his way back to health, and possibly the football field, too.
“There are not a lot of things that put me in a foul mood, but seeing that kid suffer, it hurts,” Joe Bernardi said. “It’s life, it sucks, and the kid really believes he’ll play in a Pro Bowl and it’s awesome. cheapnfljerseysonsale If that can’t jack you up, what else do you need?”
is October, and Marcus Mariota is in the thick of a Heisman Trophy discussion he wants no part of. He demurs when asked what college football’s highest individual honor means to him. He dislikes the solo spotlight his singular play has warranted.