The last time I got out of my chair for a Nebraska touchdown run was way back, um, never. But I’ll have to admit that this was pretty damn cool. Jack Hoffman is a 7-year-old who was diagnosed with a brain tumor in 2011, and has undergone two surgeries and numerous rounds of chemotherapy since. But on Saturday he lived out every kid’s dream: scoring a touchdown in a Div. I college stadium in front of thousands of fans.
Jack’s passion has always been Cornhusker football, and when his dad asked if he could get a photo with Nebraska running back Rex Burkhead, a special relationship was born. Last season Burkhead invited Jack to a game, and the boy ended up being adopted by the entire team. And that led to the big moment you see pictured, as Jack actually suited up — wearing Burkhead’s No. 22 — and ran a play toward the end of the Cornhuskers’ spring scrimmage game on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Jack took a handoff from quarterback Taylor Martinez and, led by a cadre of blockers, scampered 69 yards for a touchdown as 60,000-plus fans went nuts. It was the game’s final score, and the entire team celebrated in the end zone, hoisting Jack on their shoulders.
And … no flags.
Shortly afterwards, with a couple of television cameras and microphones in his face — and the game ball still under his arm — Jack summed up the day with three words.
“It was awesome.”
Nebraska assistant athletic director Jeff Jamrog credited wide receivers coach Rich Fisher for the idea. Fisher brought it up Friday, and Jamrog put the wheels in motion. Burkhead and Husker fullback C.J. Zimmerer, the president of NU’s chapter of Uplifting Athletes, agreed that the team was in position to give Jack a moment he’d never forget.
Jack is on a two-week break from a 60-week regimen of chemotherapy, which provided the window for Saturday’s play.
Andy said Jack is “doing great” and that an MRI at Children’s Hospital in Boston showed that the tumor has shrunk substantially in the past year.
“We’re very optimistic for Jack,” Andy said.
Photo: Daily Nebraskan.