This is a letter written by Richie Incognito's father Joe, who goes by the user name 'Hoboken Joe' on HuskersIllustrated.com's paid subscription message board. Pretty interesting and straight from the heart. He asked that others post it on message boards, so here it is:
Letter from a parent
From the Parent of a Husker and damn proud of it.
Let me start off by saying that this post is not directed towards any select individual or group of people. No one from the school or this board asked me to post this. Just wanted to get that straight
I must first bore you with a little of my background in order for you to understand how I tick inside.
I was born and raised in one of the poorest run down areas on the east coast, Union City NJ, no crying heart, just the bare facts.
I lived in apartment buildings most of my youth and well into my teens. My parents were immigrants from Italy ( father ) Germany ( mother ) both are now deceased. Two brothers one sister, all alive and well.
It was a hard nosed working class environment where you learned the ropes of life at a young age. You also discovered the harsh reality that you and your family were not one of the so called chosen ones. It was a community where your word was your word, it meant everything to you. It was your honor, your future, and in some instances, your life.
You were witness to the fact that if you worked hard enough and kept your nose relatively clean, there was a good chance you could make it out of the city, maybe get a little house out in the suburbs and start a family. I was one of the fortunate ones to do just that. I learned a lot from those days. I often reminisce of playing all day long in the summer in the school yards. Hanging out at night. We were all kids, none of us realized we were pour because none of us ever left the neighborhood. We didn't even realize what was out there until one summer day a group of us ventured on a bus out to Paramus NJ and actually saw that there were homes with less than 10 floors and did not have flat roofs. GRASS LAWNS, that really blew my mind the first time I saw one, almost put my face through the bus window. Well enough for me, just wanted to give you a background.
My Oldest son Richard, is Nebraska's Left Tackle, He is a redshirt freshman. The kid has worked very hard to get where he is today. His work ethic and spirit are beyond compare. He was not raised with a silver spoon in his mouth and the kid is very street wise as he grew up in NJ for the first 11 1/2 years of his life. It wasn't in the crap hole I grew up in, but it was a town, a small town, 6,400 people, that came from the area I grew up in and now bought one of those single family homes we all had dreamed about. All of the town raised their kids the same. No matter how rich or poor. We all raised our kids the same way we were. Family, came first, no matter what. We rode them to do good and keep clean and steer clear of trouble.
Sorry for the brief biography, I just felt it necessary for you to know where and how and what ideology was put upon my son growing up. I will now fast forward to our Move to Arizona and Ritchie's' recruiting experience.
About a week after school ended in my sons Sophomore year, he received a few letters from smaller schools, New Mexico, Baylor, ASU. He went on to have a great junior year. During the season of his junior year he started getting mail from a few more schools, Nebraska being one of them. Just the normal stuff, keeping him updated on the scores of the prior weeks games and so forth.
About halfway through his junior year, I started to realize how much talent the good Lord had bestowed upon my son. Even though his school had a bad year ( 3-8 ) Richie had a super year.
In January, right after his junior football season was over, we started getting the letters. At first 3 a week then 10 a week than 3 a day and finally right before May, he was averaging almost 30 to forty letters a week. Regular standard recruiting stuff, Camp requests, handwritten any type you could imagine, he was getting.
We went from thinking," Ok, who is going to want my son." To, OH My God, I was even getting confused. I could see Richie and he went from complete and utter joy, to confusion and mixed emotions. We sat down and I told him to put his top five together and we will work on them from there.
His top 5 were, and in no particular order at the time, Nebraska, Miami, Stanford, Notre Dame and Georgia Tech. We were hearing from everyone now.
Remember, we did not know anything, nothing, nada, ninguno about the recruiting process. Mind you, the phone calls didn't even start yet. Yeah, there were about 5 schools calling his coach once a week, asking him to tell Richie he could call anytime he wanted. We had home numbers, work numbers, girlfriends numbers, Mother of coaches numbers. Anyplace they were going to be, they made sure, somehow, that the number was made available for my son to have. All except Nebraska, they played by the rules, no phone calls were made to us or his school until May 1 of his junior year. That was the NCAA rule at that time, I imagine now it has been tweaked some.
I will not condemn any program but I will state a fact, a true fact. There are a lot of schools out there that are going to all out lie. They will tell you anything you want to hear, just to get you son to play football for their program.
One particular school comes to mind, I won't name it but it is in the state of Florida and you can't go much more south in the state because you run out of land. Their line coach was in love with my son, we received hand written letters everyday. When the contact period started we got calls whenever he was allowed to call. Needed my son bad, he said, was going to build the line around him, he said, came from t he NY area so he had an in with us, he thought. I wanted to know the stability of the coaching staff, his response was," We all love it here, great place, plenty of sun year round, no one has any inclination of ever leaving here. Before the ink was dry on my sons letter of intent to Nebraska, the head coach was gone and the line coach that was never leaving was the head coach at Rutgers. Nuff said. Well I have more.
Remember the five top ones my son singled out as favorites ? All of the coaches are gone, all of the coaches said the programs were the best and that they would not ever coach anywhere else, all of them except one, Nebraska. Funny thing was, none of the Nebraska coaches ever told us that they were never leaving when asked about longevity on the coaching staff. All ever replied was," Well I have been at Nebraska for so and so years and myself and my family are very happy ." I felt that an honest and fair answer.
The coaches at Nebraska have never and never will fill a kid up with false hopes. Simply put, all kids get a shot of strutting their stuff, if your kid is one of the best at his position, he may get some playing time early. If he needs work at something to better himself, he will work hard, then get another shot.
This board consists of parents and fans and all types of people who have varied opinions. For the most part, the people on this board don't even live in or near Nebraska. They may have lived there at some time in their life or they may just be die hard Nebraska fans. On the other hand, there are a lot of people that do live in the state. They all have an opinion. Are they all right? Of course not.
One has to learn how these people tick, as I had to. You see you are dealing with the most knowledgeable, most critical, most stringent, most loyal fans in the nation. At Nebraska a good season is 10-1 and OK season is 9-2 and Heaven forbid, and unacceptable season is 8-3. That's just the pure facts and that's how high the bar is set at Nebraska. It is a school that does not want to be " competitive " in their conference. Its not a school that wants to have at least a winning season. Its not a school that wants to make a " good showing " at the game.
The football team at the University of Nebraska is expected to compete for the National Championship every year. That is what instilled into the kids by the coaches and the players expect it of each other. This is not the place for any football player that has the least doubt about his skills. This is a place where only first place is acceptable, all else is considered a breakdown or failure to compete. Plain and simple facts, that's the way it is.
I have entrusted my son to be raised by these people for the next four years. I am a loving father. Do you think for one minute that I would let any so called " Doomsday " person on a message board sway my sons dream. Absolutely not. Look around the internet at the activity of some other big school message boards, they are lucky to fill a screen up in a day. This team attracts the best and worst of critics. The football program at Nebraska should and cannot be judged by these so called message board critics. I pray for the love of God that no one actually follows these rantings and ravings on here. Just imagine what it would be like if all of us, the whole world drove white Chevy's because someone or group of people had something bad to say about every other make and color car. I personally think that would suck. Same for this message board, please do not judge a program by people that are not even remotely connected to the program.
One thing I can attest to in regards to everyone that posts on this board, is, they all love the Nebraska Football team. Its a deep that has no end to it.
I would like to add one more thing. If Norman Rockwell were still alive.( I am a fanatic about this mans work ) he would love to put Memorial stadium and its football team and fans on canvas. Nebraska Football and the city of Lincoln Nebraska is the way America was meant to be. A small town, that is clean, and mostly crime free. Great schools and just a plain old good place for a young man to learn the ropes of life from individuals who actually live a good honest clean life.
The coaches are good, the school is good, the team is good, the town is good. I have nothing further to say except one thing. We have had this conversation a few times, if he were to do it over again, he would still pick Nebraska over the other top rated schools.
My son was at the Rose Bowl, dressed and on the sideline. I was there in the stands. As the game progressed and it was quite evident Nebraska was not going to take home the Sears Trophy, I was wondering what was going through Ritchie's head. Was he looking over at the Miami side of the field and saying to himself " Man, I could have been on that side of the field, winning a national championship and getting a ring ."
Before I got a chance to ask him what he was thinking, he was asked by one of his coaches, Ron Brown. They sat together on the bus ride back to the hotel from the Rose Bowl. As they spoke Ron looked Richie in the eyes and asked " Well Richie, still think you picked the right team to play for?" Without hesitation my son told me he looked Ron right in the eye and replied " I picked the right team coach. I wouldn't trade playing for Nebraska for anything, not even a National Championship. Besides, our turn is coming real soon. I picked the right team coach and have no regrets."
For anyone who has the knowledge please put this up on the other boards if you please.
The Richie Incognito story
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