Nebraska, Fresno State show incredible sportsmanship in honoring fallen punter

Photo: Screenshot from ESPN.com broadcast

Photo: Screenshot from ESPN.com broadcast

Plain and simple, some things are bigger than football.

On the opening Saturday of the college football season, two teams put aside competition to honor a player who lost his life before it really started.

In late July, Nebraska’s senior punter Sam Foltz was killed in a car accident that also took the life of former Michigan State punter Mike Sadler.

The two were in Wisconsin working as instructors at a kicking camp at the time, helping other future kickers perfect their crafts.

A little more than a month later, the Nebraska Cornhuskers opened the season at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln as hosts to the Fresno State Bulldogs.

In a game that would have been the first game of Foltz’s senior season, the Huskers went three-and-out on their opening possession, forcing the punting unit to come onto the field.

But when they did, they were missing a player.

Only 10 men came onto the field, leaving vacant the spot on the field where Foltz would have stood.

The team was penalized for a delay of game, but as the play clock expired, Fresno State’s defense clapped and joined the rest of the Huskers crowd in honoring Foltz.

In an emotional scene during a game that fans have waited months to watch and players have waited months to compete in, the entire stadium, including the opponents, paused to remember a fallen player.

But the Bulldogs went a step further in their display of sportsmanship — rather than accepting the penalty and gaining better field position for their offense, they elected to decline the penalty.

The significance of the moment to the Bulldogs was more important.

Here’s the moment in its entirety:

Following the play, the Huskers tweeted:

Sportsmanship is often talked about for the wrong reasons in sports, especially football.

“Poor sports” generally make headlines while “good sports” generally make footnotes.

Figure this — among the top stories on Saturday were at least three players being ejected for poor sportsmanship. Two were tossed for illegal hits, one stomped on the groin of his opponent.

Mercifully, on the same day, Nebraska and Fresno State joined together to give us this memorable moment.

It’s going viral for all the right reasons.

Because thankfully some teams have remembered, some things are bigger than football.

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One Response to Nebraska, Fresno State show incredible sportsmanship in honoring fallen punter

  1. Karen McCoy says:

    beautifully written Mitch!

    Like

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