A true sports hero
So often in sports we throw around the word “hero.”
In reality, sports has few heroes. Legends, yes. Stars, for sure. But heroes in sports are rare.
An e-mail earlier this week reminded me of that. Former Oklahoma football player and coach Leon Cross was nice enough to share with me an e-mail sent to him and several other Sooners by teammate John Tatum. They played together in the early 60s with a true sports hero, John Benien.
Here are Tatum’s words about his teammate and friend. They say it all:
“I know July 4th is Independence Day. Fireworks, hot dogs, flag and lots of fun. But Independence Day did not just happen. A lot of good men and good women bought our freedom with their lives.
“Almost 40 years ago, I attended a military funeral for a friend of mine who died in Vietnam. The sight of such a fine young man in his dress uniform lying there in a glass-covered military casket is a picture in my mind just as if I had seen him for the last time yesterday. I do not remember just how old my friend was. Perhaps 25 or so. He was a Lt. in the Army attached to JAG. He was a teammate of mine at OU. He was from Tulsa and played end. He was one of those guys everyone just automatically liked. He was a well-mannered and nice looking young man. Perhaps 6’1″ and 195 pounds. Intelligent, too, with a Will Rodgers-type personality.
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