I first time I met hall of famer Andre Tippett at Gillette Stadium. The second time was on the podium at a boys’ high school where we were both speaking.
I never really got beyond the size of his hands. Who has hands that big? A kid growing up in Newark as the man of the house from the time he’s in diapers and learns karate to protect himself and train his mind? A man who takes the study of leverage and hand-to-hand combat onto the football field with devastating effect? Or a now 50-year-old athlete who has done everything there is to do in his sport, whispering to me in a gentle voice about the importance of “beginner’s mind“?
No, a guy with hands that big comes home from school chased by bullies crying to his mother who is standing in the doorway, because his dad is long since gone. She tells the kid with enormous hands and shoulders and heart to turn around.
Stop running, she says, from the bullies, from your demons, from your life.
And the man with enormous hands wipes the tears from his face, turns around and walks off that porch to face his destiny. That day and every day after.
—Photo Tomas Sobek/Flickr