Joe Coughlin

Nebraska, 7-Year-Old Make For Special Spring Game

Created on Apr. 17, 2013 3:37 AM EST

The power of football was on full display at Nebraska’s spring game April 5.

It wasn’t 300-pound linemen banging facemasks or a linebacker stuffing a ball-carrier in the gap. It was a 7-year-old in full gear sprinting his heart out with 70 collegiate athletes celebrating him for all 69 yards.

Jack Hoffman is a diehard Huskers fan. Before Jack’s second brain surgery in 2011, he created a “to-do” list, which included meeting then-Husker Rex Burkhead.

The meeting happened a few weeks before Jack’s successful surgery, in which more than 90 percent of a cancerous mass was removed.

Jack then became a mainstay within the Nebraska program. He walked with the players through the tunnel before a win on Sept. 28, 2012, and Huskers' players wear a bracelet for Jack. And even though Burkhead graduated, coach Bo Pellini pointed in Jack’s direction before the annual spring game a couple weeks ago.

The result was a powerful, emotional and poignant moment that was just another example of the life-changing ability of sports.

It’s not hyperbole. It’s not sensationalism. If you don't think Jack's life was changed, watch the tape: 


Looking like a seedling among Redwoods, Jack took a handoff and after inadvertently trying to cut back, he followed his blockers, found the right edge and scampered to the end zone ahead of the entire, supportive Nebraska football team.

He was put on the shoulders of giants, getting a little closer to the sun, and as witnesses, we felt the true power of football.

Not only did close to 100 men go out of their way to lift one little boy, but that little boy affected all of them just as much, if not more.

“Sometimes our kids feel like, 'Wow! Football is tough and it's difficult.' Football is hard, but when you compare it to what a 7-year-old like Jack is going through, it pales in comparison," Nebraska coach Bo Pellini told ESPN.

There’s bad, bad things in this world. Something we were reminded of again in Boston. Sports won’t change that, nor can they heal wounds, but things like what happened at a Nebraska spring game on April 5 happen every day. Stories about them serve as reminder that good, kind hearts outnumber their counterparts.

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