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Gabe Ikard's Tillman Award acceptance speech: 'The most significant thing we did as college football players was making a difference by helping others'

by Jason Kersey Published: January 18, 2014

Former Oklahoma center Gabe Ikard received the Pat Tillman Award for character at the East-West Shrine Game banquet Friday night, and was named a team captain for Saturday’s game.

Ikard spoke at the banquet after receiving the Tillman Award, and his agent was kind enough to provide the text of his speech.

Here is the full text of Ikard’s speech Friday night:

In a one of our chapels earlier this year, Clebe McClary told our team: “IN THIS LIFE OF GIVE AND TAKE, THERE ARE NOT ENOUGH PEOPLE WILLING TO GIVE WHAT IT TAKES.”

I am honored to stand in front of a group of men that have given what it takes in the game of football up to this point. We have done what we needed to do on and off the football field in order to have a chance to play in the NFL. By the grace of God, we all have been given a platform to influence others through this wonderful game. Winning championships, making all-conference and all-American are all tremendous accomplishments, but the most significant thing we did as college football players was making a difference by helping others.

Kids look up to us; kids want to grow up to be like us. We are seen as heroes for what we did in between the lines on Saturdays. But men like Pat Tillman are the true heroes. He gave up riches and fame to defend this country and to defend our freedom. The administration and staff of Shriners Hospitals are heroes for giving children a chance to live a long and healthy life. People always call us warriors for what we do in shoulder pads and helmets. Football is physical, football takes toughness, but football is just a game. The young patients of the Shrine Hospitals fight through amputations, life threatening diseases, numerous surgeries, and painful recoveries. These children are the true warriors. I could not be happier that I was invited to this game to remind of the things I take for granted every day of my life.

I’d like to thank the East-West Shrine Game and the Shriners Hospital for this tremendous honor.

I have to thank Coach Stoops and everyone else at the University of Oklahoma for always making it clear that the most important things about college football are getting a degree and making memories.

Thank ya’ll. God bless you and Boomer Sooner.

by Jason Kersey
OU Sports Reporter
Jason Kersey became The Oklahoman's OU football beat writer in May 2012 after a year covering high school sports and OSU recruiting. Before joining the newspaper in November 2006 as a part-time results clerk, he covered high school football for...
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