Another Side of the Neuheisel-Oregon Saga

Nestor provides some details on the Rick Neuheisel - Oregon rivalry/relationship just below.

This blog post from Oregonlive (written by Ken Goe of the Oregonian) offers some additional insight -- with a focus on the coach's compassion bucket:

In the fall of 2000, my son, Justin, suffered a severe head injury while playing in a junior varsity football game. He nearly died on the operating table, and still was in a coma when I received a hand-written letter, several pages long, from Neuheisel.

I'm not sure how he knew about Justin's injury, although his Washington team had lost at Oregon that weekend.

That fall I heard from many people I met as part of my job. Neuheisel was one of the first and most empathetic. In his letter, he noted we didn't really know each other, but as a father with sons his heart went out to me.

Later, as Justin began a long rehabilitation, Neuheisel regularly wrote him letters of encouragement. Once, without warning, a box arrived at our home containing a UW football helmet. Scrawled on the helmet with a black marker were the words: "Justin: Tough times don't last. Tough people do."

As it turns out, my family is not unique. Neuheisel consistently and unselfishly has reached out to others. There are many such stories. A few examples:
After Neuheisel left Colorado for Washington, I went to Boulder, Colo., to research a story about him. I found boosters who didn't like him. I also found an athletic department official who told me when his father had died, Neuheisel had been one of the first people to contact him and ask how he could help.

"You won't get me to say anything bad about him," said the official, who asked that his name not be used in the story.

There's more -- just read the whole story.

You get the impression that Neuheisel is a bit of a paradox. He does things that piss people off while at the same time he really is a compassionate person who cares about things beyond the football field.

It''s an interesting way to be. So many football coaches are singularly focused on their team and winning that you wonder if that's the best way to be; remember, we made fun of the last coach because he kept track of the staff's birthdays. But with Neuheisel, we consider this human side to be a great strength.

Only five games into the Neuheisel era, we're just beginning to peel the layers off of this very public figure. It demonstrates that the Rick Neuheisel you think you know is not the only Rick Neuheisel there is to know.

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