Brock Mealer: Walking Metaphor

Submitted by woody was luc joret on August 30th, 2010 at 7:53 PM

[I was finishing up this entry when I read Brian’s first post of the season preview on the front page – sorry for a bit of redundancy.  But, I figure, if we can have 24 posts on whether DG should redshirt or not, another one on Brock isn’t a cardinal sin.]

I distinctly remember wading through the rabble on the rivals board and seeing a post about a recruit being in a serious car crash.  I immediately remembered Elliot as the o-line recruit who'd always been a huge OSU fan.  Since that Dec '07 day, I've followed the Mealers' story closely.  Even before it hit the MSM, the story was captivating for so many reasons long: Devastating crash on the way to midnight mass.  Big, strong guys in a SUV taken out by a 90 year-old running a stop sign.  Losing his dad and the girl who'd captured his heart and helped him find new direction in life.  Brother paralyzed from the waist down.  Jacked up shoulder from trying to lift the vehicle.  Ridiculous tragedy for a high school senior – when it seemed like he was on top of the world.  I'm not going to lie – I cried that first time I read the story in the small town paper…and I've teared up every time I've seen a Mealer story since then.  Who knows what I'll do in the big house Saturday… 

I've been thinking about that walk from the tunnel to the banner for several weeks now.  My 18 year-old nephew's never been to a game; I couldn't think of a better time to take him.  My wife's upset she's not going to be there to see it.  I told her she has to stay home to see if ESPN does it justice.  Though I'm not sure anyone can truly capture it.  A few Michigan metaphors alone immediately come to mind:

  1. Past: Born and raised a buckeye, Ohio educated, 4 years at OSU…then came to UM to rehabilitate something that had been in shambles (Bo – UM football; Brock – his legs)
  2. Present: At first, some critics didn't think it could/should be done; purpose and resolve won out; past few years under construction (Michigan stadium renovation; Brock's attempt to walk)
  3. Future: If the team can experience some semblance of success this year, next year and beyond could be truly special.  Brock's journey would be a fitting metaphor for the Rodriguez tenure. 

Every once in awhile, you get a glimpse of something that seems to 'put the pieces together'.  It hints at the meaning of it all, or sheds light on some arcane truth.  The ironic thing is the people in the middle of it rarely understand the magnitude of their experience.  They may know it's big, but they don't know why or how it's happening.  They're overwhelmed by the closeness of it all.  The emotions. It's changing their lives as they know them.  But, so often, it changes the lives of people on the outside as well. 

I don't want to undermine it by going all hyperbole here, but the Mealers' story provides amazing perspective…which I need more of every day, especially when I'm losing sleep each time we lose a CB to transfer, injury, or idiocy.                 

Brock's journey has provided so many poignant lessons on perspective:  He's consistently treated himself as an overcomer and not as a victim; through hard work and perseverance he's done what was seemingly impossible; there is real power in positive attitude; faith can move mountains; and when one man can persevere through a personal tragedy, it can become a collective triumph.

Bottom-line:  the Mealers have lived through more devastating life events than most of us can even worry about.  What I truly appreciate about their story, and Brock's specifically, is that it reminds us that sport is not the most important thing in the world.  But it has its place; it can bring us together, help us work through adversity, and even distract us from life's pains.  And their story teaches us that if real life becomes horrible, there's still hope… with the right perspective and perseverance, we can all overcome. 

Saturday, Brock walks again.


Moe Greene

August 30th, 2010 at 7:57 PM ^

Could not have written it better.

Brock is so very brave, and I'm proud of my alma mater and the coaching staff for taking this young man under their wing.

I will completely cry my eyes out on Saturday watching this young man do the impossible.


August 30th, 2010 at 8:21 PM ^

I'm a sucker for all things Brock Mealer, and am as excited about his leading of the team out the tunnel as I am for the game.  I too see some similarities to Brock and the team in general. 08 pretty bad, just getting feeling back, but mostly hurts.  Last year, some improvement, but still showed we had a lot of work to do, and a long ways to go.  This year, we are a walkin' and will finally get a chance to show the doubters wrong, although it still could be a year away from us truly running.

I also see some parallels to the team under RR and the stadium renovation.  I ave to admit, I was against it when I first heard about it. But once I saw what the final product could be, I was all aboard.  In 08, it looked pretty bad, having to be torn apart and rebuilt.  Last year, we saw the improvements, but still needed some work.  Now the finished product is done, and on Sept 4th we get to show off our new stadium/team, torn down and rebuilt with a modern twist with still a classic feel.  I cannot wait to be there on Saturday to celebrate with the team and with my 109,901+ friends.


August 30th, 2010 at 8:49 PM ^

I've made it a point to avoid posting/replying on this board
in the offseason as it's unfortunately turned into a mgopoint grab. However your post is fantastic and I hope gets a lot of hits.

I live in Los Angeles but this will still be the first home opener that I have missed in a long time. I had been looking forward to this game to help cheer him on ever since I first heard of his plan and I am sad that I will miss it. I really do hope that ESPN2 spends more than 5 seconds on this story for those of us that cannot attend the game

Go Blue.


August 30th, 2010 at 9:52 PM ^

There are things in life more important than debating 8 wins versus 6 wins and whether or not RichRod keeps his job, or if we are dominating/not dominating in-state recruiting or whether or not this or that player is a "bust" or if we start too many walk-ons...

Brock Mealer's situation shows us some perspective in considering why we watch football and why we participate in a community like this one. These things are a privilege and Brock's perseverence, his faith, and his remarkable effort identify the best things about any of us. We see a piece of the best of ourselves, the best of the program (Mike Barwis/s + c team's selfless efforts) and the best of the MGoCommunity in Brock's progress. We have hope for his recovery because it speaks to the broader power of the best things in life: faith, hope, love and spiritual community.

As one who has a parent who has recovered to walk following paralysis and, as a therapist myself, I am sure I will be needing some kleenex on Saturday when Brock leads the team into the stadium. 


August 30th, 2010 at 10:46 PM ^

My mom just called and casually asked how I expected the team to do and I wound up relating Brock's story. There are 3 times I've gotten teary eyed at all in my adult life, and the Mealer's story is one of them (Wisconsin '08, Notre Dame '09 are the other 2).

I think a lot of people get caught up in the difference between W's and L's but the fact is Mealer's story is as inspiring as anything Michian football has ever done and we could lose12 games this year and it wouldn't change how much I support this team.

I'm just worried that on Sept. 4th the girls in my seating group will be like "Rob why are you crying" "UH ITS KIND OF DUSTY IN THIS STADIUM I DON'T CRY, UH, WANT TO GO NAIL SOME TRI-DELTS LATER BROS"


August 30th, 2010 at 11:07 PM ^

We are winners the moment he walks out that tunnel leading the team. I couldn't be more proud of Rich and this program. I say that without  reservation.


August 30th, 2010 at 11:58 PM ^

Woody this is the single most profound and moving post I've read on this board. With all due respect to the owner.  The Mealer family's "story"  will touch both fan bases and the casual veiwer in a very special way..  I don't have tears for Brock his mom and his little brother I got all smiles for them and the University because it is in some measure trumph over tragedy.  While the pain both flesh and emotional is still there, with God's grace and mercy they will find meaning and purpose in this event and beyond. Go gettem Brock and Go Blue 


August 31st, 2010 at 7:55 AM ^

No matter what else happens during the rest of the games - this will top it all.  Brock has shown the entire team what a true Hard Edge is.  Brock deserves all the credit in the world for this incredible recovery, but people should also not forget the work and dedication that Barwis and the rest of his staff have put into the rehab.  People on this board often joke about the lore that is Mike Barwis that he often seems to be more myth than person (not sayng' its a bad thing - I'm one of those people anyway).  Well, I'd like to attach a few new words to him: compassionate, devoted, and generous.  there you go, Mike.  Humanity restored. 

Although the journey is fa form over for Brock, a big job well done to all of them. 



August 31st, 2010 at 2:00 PM ^

I have followed the Mealers' story since the news first broke of the tragedies foisted on the family.  Brock's achievement is nothing short of miraculous -- sometimes you have to make your own miracle.  Brock did, through hard work, determination and refusal to give up or give in to the conventional wisdom that recovery was impossible.  It is truly astounding that he will walk out of the tunnel on Saturday, given all the hardware that now makes up parts of his spine.

Brock's tenacity, courage and will to disprove his own physicians are matched only by the unfailing selflessness (and probably downright stubbornness) of Mike Barwis and his staff.  They have given a young man his life back and have done it for that reason alone.  While they deserve every bit of praise that will come their way for their accomplishment, the humility they have exhibited throughout the months of grueling work also deserves recognition and is an example to be heralded and followed.  God bless them all.

The anticipation of Saturday is more than I can take!


August 31st, 2010 at 9:56 AM ^

to see Brock lead the team out under the MgoBlue Banner.  I plan to cheer loudly, in the hope that it will keep me from crying.  Go get'em Brock.

Nancy Sinatra sums up best how I feel about Brock and the Michigan football team.

 These boots are made for walking, and that's just what they'll do,
one of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you.


kevin holt

August 31st, 2010 at 2:01 PM ^

To every part of the game, especially this part.

Then, the parts I look forward to all happen after my friends finally take their eyes off me with their looks of shock from seeing a 20 year old college student cry his eyes out before a football game. Once they forget, I'll be okay again. If they laugh because of it, they'll be the ones crying, though.


August 31st, 2010 at 2:56 PM ^

All that matter is Brock walking out.  The game is second nature.  We all could learn about life, determination, and rentless willpower of this hero.  I know my troubles are nothing in comparison.