FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — O.J. Brigance is going back to the Super Bowl with the Baltimore Ravens, a model of toughness and perseverance.
On Sunday, confined to a wheelchair as he battles Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, the former Baltimore linebacker presented the Lamar Hunt trophy to the team after it beat the New England Patriots 28-13 for the AFC championship on Sunday.
Using a communication device that translates his thoughts, Brigance, now a senior advisor to player development for the Ravens, had this to say:
“Congratulations to the Baltimore Ravens. Your resiliency has outlasted your adversity. You are the AFC Champions. You are my mighty men. With God, all things are possible.”
In 2007, Brigance was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. In his current position, he helps the athletes in all phases of their careers and copes with the disease.
He was part of the Ravens team that won the Super Bowl in the 2000 season, starring on special teams.
Now he inspires them.
“Every day I came out and told O.J. that you’re my greatest motivation,” said linebacker Ray Lewis, the only active Raven who played on that championship team.
Brigance, 43, also was on the field for the coin toss Sunday.
“What can’t you say about O.J.,” safety Ed Reed said. “O’J.’s been our strength. O.J. took me under his wing when I first got here, even when i was buying a new car and everything he’s been through and is going through, to still be the same O.J. and being a light to you and be a light for our team … He’s been like an uncle to me and like a brother. I love Juice.”
(© Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)