Tag Archive | "o.j. brigance"

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Chapter 5: A Ravens family that loves its Juice and never quits…

Posted on 16 January 2018 by Nestor Aparicio

 

“Today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. And I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for…”

– Lou Gerhig (July 4th, 1939)

 

 

IF YOU VISIT THE BALTIMORE RAVENS’ facility in Owings Mills, it’s virtually impossible to miss the office of O.J. Brigance. His office door is always open, and it’s in the main foyer hallway, the most traveled area in the building for any employee or visitor. If you want to eat or go to the bathroom at the Under Armour Performance Center, he’s almost like a toll stop. You have to stop or at least slow down and acknowledge him.

It’s hard to know what the many young, incoming Ravens players or staff employees first think when they enter their new workplace and pass the office of Brigance, who sits in a very complex wheelchair-like device in front of a communication device called a Dynavox, which faces toward the door.

There are more than a handful of bonds that link the two Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl championship teams beyond Ray Lewis, but none more spiritual than the journey of O.J Brigance over the 12 years between confetti celebrations that demonstrate just how much lives can change, transform and, in some cases, deteriorate.

O.J. Brigance was No. 57 on the Super Bowl XXXV champions in 2001, the special teams captain who made the first tackle of the game on that beautiful night in Tampa. He was also the starting middle linebacker on the Baltimore Stallions Canadian Football League Grey Cup championship team of 1995. He’s the only man with a ring from both league’s championship teams from the same city.

And now, at 43, he sits motionless, all except for the flicker of his warm, bright eyes that allow him to communicate with the world around him via this amazing communication device that has kept his virtual world untouched despite his body betraying him, slowly disintegrating in front of everyone.

He gave his body to football all of his adult life. Now that same body, once a perfect physique honed by Brigance’s incredible drive, determination, and work ethic in the gym, has withered away. His spirit however remains transcendent for all who are in his presence.

He first felt the symptoms during a racquetball game in 2007 at the Ravens facility. From the time the franchise moved from Cleveland to Baltimore, beginning at the dumpy old facility on Owings Mills Boulevard about three miles away from the castle-like palace in the woods off Deer Park Road, the exhausting window wall game has been a staple for coaches, scouts, and various office personnel to blow off steam, get in a sweat and compete with each other for the “King of The Court” title. Racquetball, not cornhole, is the original, game of choice in Owings Mills. Brigance, a regular in the rotation in a building full of pretty fit athletes and former athletes, noticed some weakness in his right shoulder, his strength and range of motion were slowly changing so he sought out a neurologist. He was an athlete. He knew his body, and he knew something was wrong.

After a battery of tests, he and his wife Chanda were given the stunning diagnosis: O.J. had Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

A.L.S. is a motor neuron disease, first described in 1869 by the noted French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. It occurs rarely and spontaneously. To date, except in strongly genetic forms of the disease, the cause of ALS is not completely understood. The last decade has brought a wealth of new scientific understanding, but how it starts in the body is still unclear.

Commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease and outside of the United States as Motor Neuron Disease (MND) or Charcot’s Disease, it is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that attacks motor neurons in the brain (upper motor neurons) and spinal cord (lower motor neurons) and affects muscle function. The motor neurons control the movement of various voluntary

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Ravens bring food, support to west Baltimore

Posted on 30 April 2015 by Luke Jones

(Photo courtesy of the Baltimore Ravens)

After many players spoke out against the violence in Baltimore earlier this week, the Ravens brought support and supplies to the west Baltimore area on Thursday morning.

Head coach John Harbaugh, former Ravens linebackers Ray Lewis and O.J. Brigance, and quarterback Joe Flacco were part of a group of 55 players and 30 organization volunteers. The group visited two elementary schools as well as Frederick Douglass High School, where Lewis gave an impassioned speech to students.

“We have an opportunity to change Baltimore,” said Lewis as CNN brought live coverage of his words. “If you want to make real change, be the example of change.”

Lewis elected to forgo his normal ESPN duties covering the NFL draft in Chicago in order to remain in Baltimore to offer support in such a trying time. Due to the citywide curfew, the Ravens were forced to cancel their Thursday night draft party at M&T Bank Stadium earlier this week.

It was hardly surprising, but the Ravens’ arrival in the community hit hardest by Monday’s rioting was the latest example to help justify the overwhelming support they’ve received from Baltimore and its fans for the last two decades.

 

 

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Brigance named PFWA’s 2014 George Halas Award winner

Posted on 16 June 2014 by WNST Staff

BALTIMORE RAVENS SENIOR ADVISOR TO PLAYER DEVELOPMENT O.J. BRIGANCE SELECTED AS PFWA’S 2014 GEORGE HALAS AWARD WINNER

Baltimore Ravens senior advisor to player development O.J. Brigance, whose continuing battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) serves as an inspiration to many and who has helped raise research funds to fight the disease via his Brigance Brigade foundation, has been selected as the 2014 George Halas Award winner by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).

Brigance, the 45th Halas Award winner, is the first member of the Ravens franchise to receive the honor from the PFWA.

The Halas Award is given to a NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed. The award is named for Halas, a charter member (1963) of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, who was associated with the Chicago Bears and NFL from their inception in 1920 until his death in 1983 as an owner, manager, player and promoter. Halas won 324 games and six NFL titles in 40 seasons as a coach.

In May 2007, Brigance was diagnosed with ALS. He partnered with the Johns Hopkins University Packard Center for ALS Research and became their ALS ambassador. In 2008, the Ed Block Courage Award Foundation saluted him with the Johnny Unitas Tops in Courage Award for his strength in his ALS battle. He earned an 2008 Emmy Award as the host of the team’s weekly TV show, “Ravens Report”.

He was the honorary chair of the annual Fiesta 5K run six times (2008-13), and the event raised over $1 million in those six years for the Packard Center. He established his own foundation, the Brigance Brigade (brigancebrigade.org), to raise awareness and money for ALS research and patient services. The foundation hosted a 5.7k (his NFL uniform number) run in Baltimore this spring that raised $110,000.

Brigance continues to work for the Ravens as senior advisor to player development. He works closely with director of player development Harry Swayne to assist Ravens players with each career phase.

Brigance, who just completed his 10th season in the Ravens front office, played seven years with three NFL teams (Miami, Baltimore and St. Louis) and five years in the Canadian Football League with the British Columbia Lions and the Baltimore Stallions as a linebacker. Brigance earned two championship rings as a player, both in Baltimore (a CFL Grey Cup ring with the Stallions in 1995 and the Ravens in Super Bowl XXXV) and one as a front office member with the Ravens for Super Bowl XLVII.

Brigance retired after the 2002 season, and he joined the Ravens front office in 2004 as the club’s director of player development. His department was selected as the NFL’s 2005 and 2006 Best Overall Player Development Program, the 2005 Most Outstanding Internship Program and the 2007 Outstanding Continuing Education Program. Brigance’s wife, Chanda, facilitated the Lady Ravens Association, coordinating involvement for the players’ and coaches’ spouses and significant others for many years.

“O.J. Brigance is the most influential person in our organization,” said Ravens head coach John Harbaugh. “In a building of strong men, he is the strongest we have. You are energized each and every day to see how he attacks every day with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind, and we are blessed to have such an inspiring man with us every day.”

ABOUT THE PFWA: The Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA) is the official voice of pro football writers, promoting and fighting for access to NFL personnel to best serve the public. The PFWA is made up of accredited writers who cover the NFL and the 32 teams on a daily basis. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s D. Orlando Ledbetter, who covers the Atlanta Falcons, is the organization’s president for 2013-15, while ESPN.com’s Jeff Legwold, who covers the Denver Broncos, is the PFWA’s first vice-president and long-time national writer Dan Pompei is the organization’s second vice-president. Follow the PFWA at ProFootballWriters.org and on Twitter at @PFWAwriters.

GEORGE HALAS AWARD WINNERS (To the NFL player, coach or staff member who overcomes the most adversity to succeed): 1970 – Joe Namath (New York Jets); 1971 – Gale Sayers (Chicago Bears); 1972 – Tom Dempsey (New Orleans Saints); 1973 – Jimmy Johnson (San Francisco 49ers); 1974 – Mike Tilleman (Atlanta Falcons); 1975 – Dick Butkus (Chicago Bears); 1976 – Billy Kilmer (Washington Redskins); 1977 – Tom DeLeone (Cleveland Browns); 1978 – Pat Fischer (Washington Redskins); 1979 – Bert Jones (Baltimore Colts); 1980 – Roger Staubach (Dallas Cowboys); 1981 – Rolf Benirschke (San Diego Chargers); 1982 – Joe Klecko (New York Jets); 1983 – Eddie Lee Ivery (Green Bay Packers); 1984 – Ted Hendricks (Los Angeles Raiders); 1985 – John Stallworth (Pittsburgh Steelers); 1986 – Gary Jeter (Los Angeles Rams); 1987 – William Andrews (Atlanta Falcons); 1988 – Joe Montana (San Francisco 49ers); 1989 – Karl Nelson (New York Giants); 1990 – Tim Krumrie (Cincinnati Bengals); 1991 – Dan Hampton (Chicago Bears); 1992 – Mike Utley (Detroit Lions); 1993 – Mark Bavaro (Cleveland Browns); 1994 – Joe Montana (San Francisco 49ers); 1995 – Dan Marino (Miami Dolphins); 1996 – Larry Brown (Oakland Raiders); 1997 – Jim Harbaugh (Indianapolis Colts); 1998 – Mark Schlereth (Denver Broncos); 1999 – Dan Reeves (Atlanta Falcons); 2000 – Bryant Young (San Francisco 49ers); 2001 – Kerry Collins (New York Giants); 2002 – Garrison Hearst (San Francisco 49ers); 2003 – Robert Edwards (Miami Dolphins); 2004 – Sam Mills (Carolina Panthers); 2005 – Mark Fields (Carolina Panthers); 2006 – Tony Dungy (Indianapolis Colts); 2007 – Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints); 2008 – Kevin Everett (Buffalo Bills); 2009 – Matt Bryant (Tampa Bay Buccaneers); 2010 – Mike Zimmer (Cincinnati Bengals); 2011 – Mike Heimerdinger (Tennessee Titans); 2012 – Robert Kraft (New England Patriots); 2013 – Chuck Pagano (Indianapolis Colts); 2014 – O.J. Brigance (Baltimore Ravens).

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BLIZZARD SPECIAL: Get both Purple Reign books on Ravens for price of one!

Posted on 21 January 2013 by Nestor Aparicio

It’s a great day for reading!

Here’s a chance to get the original Purple Reign (2001) paperback and Purple Reign: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story (2013) hardback for just $32.99 with FREE shipping.

Here are three links to excerpts from Purple Reign 2:

This is an excerpt from Chapter 6 of Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story.

Here’s another from Chapter 10 involving Joe Flacco and Steve Bisciotti’s cash showdown in August 2012.

And the firing of Cam Cameron and the aftermath is covered in Chapter 15 here.

 

Get BOTH Purple Reign Both Books — the original softback cover from 2001 and the new hardback edition of 2013 championship:

Includes:

Purple Reign 2: Faith, Family & Football – A Baltimore Love Story (2013)

Purple Reign: Diary of a Raven Maniac (2001) ORIGINAL SOFT COVER – now out of print!

$49.99 plus S&H

NOW: $32.99 with FREE SHIPPING

 

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