Friday, August 1, 2008

An honor overdue and long deserved

Today a long drawn out battle to see my Step-Father(Mike Dawson) placed in the U of A football Ring of Honor was won.

I started this quest about 10 years ago. I would ask Mike at the beginning of every season, "Why aren't you in the Ring of Honor?"...Mike always found a self deprecating way to explain away the schools failure to honor the best local player ever to play at the U of A. Mike didn't want attention and he would never have spoken up for himself much less solicited the attention. He believed that the school would honor him if they saw fit and that any man who called attention to himself probably didn't deserve it.

Mike passed away this March suddenly and unexpectedly. I struggled for a way to honor Mike for being the man that he was. He wasn't my father, He wasn't just my friend, he was a coach, mentor, example and confidant. I could talk to Mike about anything(except politics) and get an even, logical and fair minded opinion from him. He became a barometer for me as I became an adult. His opinions about what I was doing helped me better understand how a responsible man behaved.

When I left for the Army I paid no thought to who would look after my mother and sister while I was gone, because I knew Mike was there. A few years later I volunteered to deploy for the invasion of Iraq, and again never thought twice about my families well being. even when facing the real possibilities of death in a war zone, I knew the things that were the most important to me, the very things I thought about when they said defending America, were just fine because Mike was there.

I decided that I had to try and get his name placed where it has belonged for a long long time, the Ring of Honor. I started by making an inquiry into why it wasn't there to begin with through the AD. I was told simply, he didn't meet the standards. I will spare you the details as it was better explained in today's article by Greg Hansen in the Arizona Daily Star, but I was told no way he was getting in. I called Greg and Ryan Finley at the paper and talked to them both about my goals, they both were immediately on board and wrote beautiful pieces helping the cause. The response from friends, family and especially perfect strangers was overwhelming. The AD's office was flooded with e-mails, letters and calls(so I posted their info on line, sue me). They still would not back down though.

My gut feeling was that we had fought the good fight but had lost regardless. Several people were very upfront with me when this started and told me the chances were slim at best. I refused to believe though that someone as deserving as Mike would be denied so thoughtlessly. When we got the E-Mail a few weeks ago saying that the AD had reviewed Mike's paper work and found him in fact over qualified , we were over joyed.

On Wednesday afternoon I received a phone call from Greg Hansen at the Daily Star. Greg became aware that there were new names being added to the Ring of Honor and wanted to know how the school could still deny Mike. The school decided this was the time to make public their decision and informed Greg of their intentions. Greg immediately called me to let me know the news, I told him we had indeed all ready been informed but were waiting to see it through to fruition before making a big deal out of it. What ensued was not an interview, just heartfelt conversation between two men who had lost father figures recently. Needless to say I was a bit taken back this morning when my Mom called me crying, moved to tears by Greg's wonderful article.

It has been a long difficult few months. I am not sure how I will react when I see Mike's name up in the Ring of Honor for the first time. I am sure at some point this season I will be in the stands with the rest of TheBearDown crew and I will look up at it and it will really hit me. I am glad though, the efforts of so many people to call, write, or just keep my family in your thoughts and prayers is what made this happen. It is a testament to what kind of man Mike was that so many people fought for him to receive this last, long overdue, long deserved honor.

BearDown Mike - We Miss You


BradAllis said...

I had met Mike on a few occassions. He knew my bad as they both ran sports bars at one time. He was a great guy who took the time to talk football with some snot nosed teenager.

BC said...

He was "Infamous" for those conversations...yours is a sentiment shared by many

-Matt Randle "EL"