Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Wick Fisher
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Super Bowl: Minnesota style

Wick's World


February 8, 2018

I had no horse in this Super Bowl race. Last week, the Philadelphia Eagles humiliated our Minnesota Vikings, both on and off the field. It would take a stretch of the imagination to believe I would find myself on Super Bowl Sunday sitting in my living room rooting for the team with a handful of the rudest fans in the sport's world.

It was just as hard to cheer for the opposition. The New England Patriots will forever be etched in my mind as the successful NFL franchise that felt a need to continually devise new ways of cheating in order to win games. Spying on the other team’s plays, deflating inflatable pigskins? This is the stuff James Bond movies are made of.

To top it off, I’ve seen enough of Pretty Boy Brady’s mug to last me a lifetime. I guess there is no need for the name-calling; after all, Tom Brady has never thrown a touchdown pass against me. A nice PR story about his dear old granny living in Browerville, Minnesota (“Here we call him Tommie.”) put a human face on one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game. And Tommie did say some nice things about our frigid state, maybe because Boston has a lot more in common with the Twin Cities than with Miami Beach.

Although I only watched a handful of football games this season, I watched this Super Bowl for one reason. I knew it had the potential to be a very exciting, gun-slinging affair with touchdowns being lobbed around our billon-dollar glass castle like so many snowballs at sister city St. Paul’s Ice Palace.

Unfortunately, I missed the story that was to me the highlight of game day Sunday. A young 16-year-old high school football player was featured on Good Morning America. Everyone in my adopted hometown of Moose Lake knows the kid named Danny Lilya. After his story was told to the nation just hours before some of America’s finest physical specimens ever to don football jerseys began their shootout, the kid from Moose Lake had a story worth telling.

You see, Danny has never walked. That’s right. He’s lived his life in a wheelchair. But if anyone is left with any doubt in their mind that the human spirit is so strong it can overcome almost anything, just ask Danny’s mom and dad. Don’t forget to credit his coach, Dave Louzek, who had the foresight to recognize there is indeed a place for everyone on the team.

Even the coaching legends of the past, the Packers’ Vince Lombardi or the Vikings’ Bud Grant, couldn’t have better taught the lessons of teamwork on this year’s Super Bowl Sunday than did the young kid from Moose Lake who will never walk. Sometimes that rare coach or parent or a kid confined to a wheelchair comes along to teach us one of life’s lessons.

When coaches recognize, as did Moose Lake/Willow River’s Coach Louzek, that every player, even the guy with Danny’s job, the one who holds the football for the kicker, is as important as any other man on the field, then we all get a small glimpse of what can be accomplished when we work together. The lesson that played out in these tiny towns of northern Minnesota was much larger than those played out on any Super Bowl stage.


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