Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Brad Van Pelt Passes Away

Yesterday Michigan State lost one of their greatest football players of all time as Brad Van Pelt was found dead in his home. Not only was he a true Spartan great, he was from my hometown of Owosso, Michigan. Having grown up there, I know what he meant to that city, especially if you are over the age of 40. Hell, most people in the town would say that he was the most famous person from there despite it being the birthplace of Thomas Dewey. I'm too young to have seen him play, but I went to high school with two of his sons and had a few gym teachers that were high school buddies of his. I always thought that it was funny when they told old war stories about them being with Brad and tearing up the town. After hearing so many stories about BVP, you tended to think that the legend was bigger than the player. But, those who saw him play argue otherwise even to this day.

Some of his accomplishments include:

  • 2 Time All-American
  • 1972 Maxwell Award Winner (first defensive back to win)
  • 1972 Chevrolet Defensive Player of the Year
  • Played basketball and baseball for Michigan State also.
  • Was drafted to play baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals.
  • Was selected to the NFL Pro Bowl five times
  • Was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2001

I wasn't around during Brad Van Pelt's glory days, but I've heard so many legendary stories that I feel like I was. I think anyone that has any ties to Owosso probably feels the same way. In many ways, BVP was the identity of this town. Having accomplished everything he did coming from such a small community is truly amazing. For the people of Owosso, his death is the equivalent of French Lick losing Larry Bird. We were all fortunate enough to have been influenced by his legacy and we will likely never see an athlete like him again.

Brad Van Pelt Related Links
1) The New York Times - Nice, long story. LT is quoted as saying that BVP was "One of the greatest players I ever played with. I not only liked him as a player but he was one of my true friends."
3) The Detroit Free Press
4) The Lansing State Journal

Friday - Back to MSU basketball. I'm taking more time to get over the Purdue loss.

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