NFL, Foundation Team Up To Grant Wish Of Sick Teens
TAMPA - Sometimes, life is a much harder game to play than professional football. That's the case for one group of youngsters here for the Super Bowl, all of whom are facing the battle of their lives. But for this one weekend, they will take a break from their tough journey and just enjoy. "We stand up here as heroes to you guys," Detroit Lions wide receiver Mike Furrey told the group of teens suffering from cancer, muscular dystrophy and other life-threatening illnesses. "You guys are our heroes. We should be the ones sitting down listening to you."The National Football League teamed up with the Make-A-Wish Foundation to include 13 teens in this year's biggest single day in U.S. sports. Even before Sunday's Super Bowl, though, they got some special attention Friday touring Raymond James Stadium and visiting the NFL Experience. The Make-A-Wish Foundation is a nonprofit charity that grants wishes for children with life-threatening medical conditions. Each of the teens will attend the game with a relative. Furrey, Tampa Bay Buccaneers safety Jermaine Phillips, Kansas City Chiefs guard Adrian Jones and Darrelle Revis, a cornerback for the New York Jets, were among the players who spent an hour with the teens, signing footballs and talking about who they plan to root for Sunday - and about life. "We've been all around the stadium," said Ruslan Davis of Tennessee, a Tennessee Titans fan who thinks Sunday's game will come down to the wire. Phillips gave him a little face time. "I see you're a Titans fan. They started out real good," Phillips said. "We started out real good, too." "I'm a Niners fan," said Greg Keys of Orange County, Calif., talking about the San Francisco 49ers. "But I'm rooting for the Cardinals Sunday. West Coast team. I'm a really big football fan, and this is great. We're going to Busch Gardens tomorrow." "This is the biggest sporting event there is," said Stephan Surtees of Gerber, Calif., when asked why he chose a trip to the Super Bowl. "This is awesome. I just love sports." Keith Campbell, 12, of Tuckerton, N.J., wasn't put off that his team didn't earn a trip to the Super Bowl. "I'm a St. Louis Rams fan, but they're never very good. I'm rooting for Arizona. I like Kurt Warner a lot. He's probably my favorite. I'm very excited."
Reporter Yvette C. Hammett can be reached at (813) 865-1566.