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Evolution Is The Best Part of This Job

No story, is ever JUST a story in this business.
"Oh, this is just a story to you."

It's a phrase that most journalists hear at least once in their career.  I'm here to tell you that there's no such thing.

If you approach anyone in the 18 Sports Department, you can bring up a story, and we'll remember it.  It may take us a while, but we're actually pretty good at remembering names.  (Pronouncing them may be a different story)  Mario Sacco has been here for almost four years.  He can hear a last name and tell you their brother or sister, when they played, and how well they did on the team.

Some names will always stand out more than others.  Whether it was because of the stories they helped tell, or because their talent was so great, that their story was far from done.  It's our favorite part of the job; the evolution of student athletes.

Prior to my time in the Twin Tiers, I worked in Beaumont, Texas for just under four years.  In my first year, I witnessed Christine Michael.  He was a running back for one of the larger high schools in our area, West Brook.  Michael was a back with excellent speed and even better agility.  It wasn't a matter of if he would play on Saturdays, it was where?  After back-to-back 2,000 rushing seasons, Michael signed on to play at Texas A&M.  He made an immediate impact his freshman year, and bulked up to a muscular back, while still retaining his speed.  Injuries, coaching changes, different styles of offense, and some off the field issues hurt his draft stock, but eventually, he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks after his senior season.

About 20 miles east of Beaumont is a place called Orange, Texas.  It's your last stop before you reach the Texas-Louisiana border.  Tucked away from Interstate 10 is a high school named West Orange-Stark.  The home to the Mustangs.  When it comes to Southeast Texas, you're hard pressed to find a place with more tradition.  They have a history of sending players on the next level, at the Division One level!  Earl Thomas III was a Mustang.  Orange even honored him with an Earl Thomas day.  He was already playing for the Texas Longhorns by the time I arrived in southeast Texas, but he was advancing by leaps and bounds from his junior to his senior season.  

Thomas was up for several college football awards at the end of the season, but players who belonged to teams with better records ultimately took home the trophies.  Thomas was ready for the NFL draft.  At 5'10, his size may have turned some teams off, but his physical play and ability to get to the ball was undeniable.  He could have gone to New York for the draft, instead, he returned to Orange.  I was there for his draft party.  I watched as he sweated out the first few picks.  Many thought he was a lock for the Eagles who were in need of safety at the time, but Philadelphia went a different direction.  Seattle, under-then first year coach Pete Carroll,  came calling with the 14th pick in the 2010 draft.  The Eagles will watch from their sofas on Sunday.  Thomas will be suiting up in New Jersey.

A lot of that may have seemed like rambling to you, but that's the evolution that I am talking about.  We do cheer for the people we cover, and hope that we're never done telling their stories.  My favorite team didn't make it the Super Bowl.  But, I have an interest.  One way or another, there will be a story to tell on each of these players on Sunday night.  No longer working in southeast Texas, it's not my story to tell the public, but that won't stop me from writing it in my head, while the game is going on.  

Happy Super Bowl Sunday!
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