Yes, this has happened before: when 7-year-old cancer patient Jack Hoffman ran for a touchdown during a Nebraska spring football game a couple weeks back. But they could keep doing these with different kids all year, and I’d never get tired of it.
This time it was 8-year-old Noah Roberts and the East Carolina football team, and the run was just as inspirational. Noah has an aggressive form of neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that has resulted in the boy needing surgery to remove several tumors in his brain and spinal cord. Doctors aren’t sure about his prognosis.
Noah is a huge East Carolina football fan, and was thrilled when head coach Ruffin McNeill invited him to their team meeting on Saturday prior to their spring scrimmage. But then Noah found out that he would actually be playing.
“Look, Noah, I have something to ask you,” McNeill said, before telling Roberts he wanted to put him into the game as a ball carrier.
“I think Noah was nervous about it at first because he thought our guys were gonna tackle him,” said ECU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley.
McNeill called several of his offensive players into the meeting, assuring the third-grader that his big blockers would have his back and that no one on the defense would touch him. That convinced Roberts, who was summoned into the huddle late in the fourth quarter.
Best part: Noah flings ball over his shoulder after scoring. Yep, act like you’ve been there before, even if you haven’t.
Also: The kid has some wheels, eh?