Story of a tattered sweater

Published 7:24 pm Friday, February 3, 2023

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On Sunday, February 12, 2023, TVs throughout America will be tuned in to see who will win Super Bowl LVII. The other 7.79 billion people of the world either don’t know or care who’s playing on Super Sunday or who wins.

But, here, in the United States, Super Bowl Sunday is a red-letter day.

Professional football is not my cup of tea, as my granny would say. I do like college football, “Roll, Tide!” And, I’m pulling for Jalen Hurts. I admire him for the way he handled adversity at the Capstone.

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When I think about football, names like, Bart Starr, Johnny Unitas and Joe Willie most often come to mind. But, the football player I admire most was a Native America football player, Jim Thorpe.

He also won and lost medals in the Olympics because he played semi-professional baseball before he competed. The medals were restored but too late for him to know.

Just recently, I had the opportunity to visit the pro football hall of fame in Canton, Ohio. It’s an amazing place. Next to the hologram of Joe Willie, I was most fascinated by a story about Jim Thorpe.

It was a weekday morning and there was no crowd. Only a few visitors.

“You like Jim Thorpe?” the guide asked as I stood fixated before the glass case.

I said that I admired him greatly. So, he told this story.

“See that sweater? It’s Jim Thorpe’s high school letterman’s sweater,” the guide said, pointing. “He gave it to a Native Indian girl. For years, the aging sweater was with her family and it made a good sleeping place for their dog. You can see how it has been worn and snagged.”

At some point in time, the family realized the value of Jim Thorpe’s letterman sweater. They donated it to the professional football hall of fame.

“We can only imagine the value of this old, tattered sweater,” the guide said. “But, his family donated it to the ‘hall.’ That says a lot about his family … and about Jim Thorpe.”

Jim Thorpe didn’t let the adversity in his life prevent him from doing great things.

“We all need to have a little more of Jim Thorpe in us,” the guide said. “If we did, the world would be a better place.”