The Montana Mazurkiewicz story from the press conference
by Chuck84 (2005-11-09 01:07:26)
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Not to step on Rumpus' toes, but everyone should read this ...

COACH WEIS: No. I talked to Jim (Russ) on the plane a little bit about it last night, I talked to Bob about it on the bus last night. He was going to get tested today. I meet with the doctors at 1:20. I really don't know where we are. I've been watching tape all morning.

As was brought up earlier, Montana, there's a young boy by the name of Montana Mazurkiewicz who died on Thursday of this week. You know, very often Notre Dame gets asked to get involved with different people. This is a kid from Mishawaka who on Wednesday, I went over to visit him during the day for a brief time, brought him a ball and a couple of T shirts and hats and stuff.

It was a very compelling visit, one that I'll always remember the rest of my life. When you walk in, here is this 10 year old kid with inoperable brain cancer. They basically told me he had a couple weeks to live. If you looked at him, you would know that a couple weeks was more realistically a couple days.

I sat there with his mom and his brother, his mom Cathy, his brother Rockne. Montana, Rockne, you get the picture? First of all, I gave him an opportunity to hammer me on the Michigan State loss, which he did very well. Reminded me of my son. Then I was able to get a couple smiles out of him. His mom got to take a couple pictures. She said it was the first time he really smiled in about three months.

But here is a 10 year old kid sitting there telling you, "Yeah, I have a tumor that's inoperable." He knew he was going. He had lost feeling in his lower body. While I'm sitting there, he has pains in his shoulders, asking his mother to rub him down. He's trying not to be a wimp. When you see the kid, it was really disheartening.

I sat there with the kid, we talked about Notre Dame football. He talked to me about his love for Notre Dame football, how he just wanted to make it through this game this week. He just wanted to be able to live through this game so he could watch that game because he knew he wasn't going to last very much longer.

I said, "What can I do for you?" He said, "I don't know." I said, "I'll tell you what. What do you want me to do on the first play of the game? Run or pass?" Like any 10 year old kid, the answer is going to be pass. I said, "Okay."

All of a sudden (in the game) we're on the one-yard line, the first time we get the ball. I say, "I have a problem here." I had told the team briefly about Montana on Wednesday because it was kind of a compelling visit, like I said. I told them how important Notre Dame football is to a lot of people. I was using Montana as an example. I'm not big on "Win one for the Gipper" type of deals, but I wanted people to realize how important they are as football players at Notre Dame, that they represent a lot of people that they don't even realize they're representing. Sometimes you think of the media. Sometimes you think of the alumni. You don't think of the 10 year old kid who is dying of cancer.

We're on the one-yard line. I told him I'd try to throw a pass to the right. I told Brady (Quinn) what I was going to do. We're on the one- yard line. "What are we going to do?" "I got no choice, we're throwing it to the right. Let's call bootleg. (Anthony) Fasano is going to be open, try to get it out of here, get it off the goal line." Anthony makes the catch, in a rare moment of athleticism, he leaps over the defender, gets some extra yards. It's almost as if Montana was willing him to beat that defender and take it to the house.

I got the message when we were in Seattle, I got the message through a phone call that Montana had died. I called their house, I talked to his brother Rockne. Rockne said, "The only thing I really wish on behalf of Montana is that you guys would be thinking of Montana and playing in his memory." I try not to use any individual as a motivational tool. I promised Rockne that after this game was over, if we won the game, I would get this ball signed and bring it over to their house. The ball is signed. After I meet with the players today, I'm going over there today to give it to them.

Just so you know, that's not to make me out to be a good guy. I was asked by somebody from the university to go. I thought it was the right thing to do. I tell you what, to watch a kid that's 10 years old, a lot of times we look at people that are older, that are sick, we feel bad for them, which we should. But having two kids myself, knowing that I would do anything in the world for my kids, to watch this 10 year old kid, knowing there wasn't much time left in this kid's life, and the only thing that could get a smile out of him was the head coach from Notre Dame sitting there talking about Notre Dame football, it makes me feel good that I went over there. I'd feel really bad if I didn't.

If you'd like to ask any questions about that, I'd answer them. I think I tried to answer that as best I could.

Q. How old are your kids?

COACH WEIS: My kids are 12 and 10. My daughter was 10. The thought went through my mind. My daughter Hanna has special needs, we have our own set of problems. The first thing I did was call my wife up, "We think we got problems with Hanna." This kid could be lucky if he makes it to the weekend. Unfortunately, I was prophetic.

Q. When exactly did you meet with him?

COACH WEIS: I met with him Wednesday because we left on Thursday. I went over there on Wednesday after I finished doing what I was doing. I got the call Thursday night when we were in Seattle.

Q. Did you talk to the family after the game?

COACH WEIS: I talked to Cathy after the game yesterday. I said, "Did you see the first play?" She said, "Yeah, I was watching." She was toughening it out. She's a tough lady. But I called her just to let her know, A, that I was thinking of her and her family, and B, we called the play he wanted and it worked, that I'd be or the house today, to bring that game ball, which I promised I'd get that game ball and bring it over to their house, which I wanted to.

Q. What did you, or your team, learn from this experience?

COACH WEIS: Two things I said before, I'll tie together. One is I'm a big family guy. In addition to my wife, my son Charlie and my daughter Hanna - that's why I live. As a matter of fact, I was sick years ago, probably should have died. I know that I stayed alive because of them. Willed me not to die. To watch a kid that's 10- years-old only get a smile to his face because of his passion and love for Notre Dame football, that's really a good moral to tell your own players to realize to let them understand who they're representing when they put on that uniform. It's not just the university they're representing, it's all the people who support that university. Sometimes we forget who they are because you think you're on a pedestal and you're bigger than the rest. It really it kind of brings you back down to earth, realize how important it is to wear that jersey.

Not to bring a somber note, but I think for Montana's sake, I hope he's smiling in heaven right now, and I'm glad he's out of pain. I'm glad we won, by the way, too, so I could bring him the ball.





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