One year ago, I sat down and wrote a quick emotional response to something that touches my life even today, the passing of a great friend of mine, Scott Vincent Wedell. Within a week’s time of writing that tribute to my friend, I was contacted by a multitude of people.
One of the most moving moments of my life was when Scott’s sister asked me if it was alright to read that tribute at Scott’s funeral. I was floored when that question arose. And I’m really looking forward to what Scott says at mine.
Some of those people were friends of mine, ones that had never heard Scott’s name until that day. Some were Scott’s friends, thanking me. Some were complete strangers, who, even in death, some small piece of Scott and his story touched.
Some of those people were Scott’s family. His father, Ray, and I burned every case of midnight oil this world has ever produced, begging, pleading, ANYTHING to get someone, anyone big to pick up the crusade into turning Scott’s name into something that is synonymous with the New York Jets, the American Cancer Society, and in general the compassionate heart of the warrior.
Eventually, AOL ran the story, with it receiving plenty of positive attention, but none in the market that we were aiming at — the general American public and people with a voice that is heard all over the nation.
I coordinated closely with the family during their time of need, trying to do anything that I could to lessen the burden on them, to brighten a day that without a doubt was full of darkness. Scott once told us that he wasn’t worried about dying, at least not in terms of what would happen to him. No, he always adamantly stated that he was most worried about his family, and what they would do, how they would react.
I tried, buddy. I tried to be there for all of them.
Whether or not you know it, the football game directly after Scott’s death was between his beloved New York Jets and the Pittsburgh Steelers. At the time, I was a staple of the social media networks Facebook and Twitter, constant play by play for weeks leading up to that game. And yet, during that game not a word was written, or even spoken.
There was a single, oddly bright, candle sitting next to me on a table, the green of the candle, with a wick that never seemed to burn out.
One of Scott’s friends equated that game to Scott’s final bout with cancer:
“The Steelers’ long opening drive that went for a touchdown was Scott finding out he couldn’t eat wheat. The sack fumble at the end of the first half was Scott getting blindsided with his disease. The second half was him fighting back, and almost making it. He didn’t lose the game; he just ran out of time.”
Think about how astonishingly true that was about Scott, his work ethic, determination, and awe inspiring courage in the face of a foe 100x his size.
Throughout the writing of this, I’ve stopped, read, and thought. I want it to be perfect. Countless words and paragraphs have been deleted because they aren’t up to the brevity of the situation, I don’t want to misspeak and not honor that fallen warrior correctly.
But, a gnawing part of me calms those fears, wherever he is, Scott’s telling me to quit thinking and start writing, like he’s done before.
Scott, little brother, we never got the chance to go to the Hall of Fame like we planned. We never got to do that player by player comparison of the Jets and Dolphins we had set up. And I wish like hell we would’ve.
Miss you lil’ buddy… always.