A couple of years ago, Matt Santos went on a road trip with the indoor football team, the Adrenaline. He sent back articles and profiles of teammates and coaches.
Jeff Lewis, who passed away on January 5, 2013, was one of the assistant coaches for the Adrenaline. Here is Matt's narrative.
The end of the trip - good to be home.
After too many hours on the bus, the first road trip for the AZ Adrenaline ended in the pre dawn hours this past Monday.
I would have submitted this earlier, but I just woke up.
I would like to conclude our road log with a few remarks from Adrenaline Assistant Coach Jeffrey Lewis or as he's known to the team, Coach J. Lew. For no other reason than everyone associated with any sports team is required to have a nick name.
Lewis spent several years in the NFL, most notably as a backup QB behind John Elway with the Denver Broncos, where Lewis earned 2 super bowl rings.
Lewis' subdued coaching style compliments Head Coach Drew Moore's, shall we say, enthusiastic (?) style nicely. But we should never mistake his demeanor as "laid back". His passion and search for quality go unmatched.
In my short visits with him, what shined through was not just his efforts to mold the young offense on the field, but to stress to the Adrenaline players under him the need to use their experiences to better themselves as persons, as men in the community.
Lewis' desire was especially evident during the ride out to WA. When most on the bus took the opportunity to rest up, he constantly reviewed his playbooks, offering advice and counsel to the players, and even familiarized himself with the defensive plays to better understand the iron-man style of play so important in the IFL.
While admirable, this dedication and lack of sleep made for more than a few comical moments. While I don't want to dwell too much on these, a sort of what happens on the bus stays on the bus philosophy, I will say this - remember kids, don't try and drink water while comatose, granola bars are best eaten while conscious, and cold pizza should never be used as a pillow.
I asked Lewis about his first NFL game and he was able to relay, play by play, his time on the field against the 49ers back in '96.
"I was thinking to myself 'this is the NFL- can I do this? These guys are stronger than me, they're faster than me, bigger than me'. But we were able to march down field in the fourth with only a couple of minutes left in the game, and I started to feel good. Then, after a missed run play, we found ourselves third down with 12 yards to go for the first. I ran it up the middle and lost my right shoe. There I was, running down field wearing only one shoe. But I got the first and connected with Rod Smith for the TD and we won.
"And I thought to myself 'this is the same game we played as kids. The same football we played in the park growing up'. I was able to relax a little bit and enjoy the win. That's what I want these guys to take from the game. It's football. You've been playing it all your life. Enjoy it."
On his two Super Bowl rings, Lewis said "They're beautiful, but I try and remember that they are made up of many separate diamonds. Each diamond is gorgeous on its own, but together they make a beautiful ring. That's like a team. Each diamond, each player, is unique. They all have different qualities, different shapes and colors. Each player has their own talents and contributions to the team. Looking back, some 10 years later, I have a better appreciation for the guys I played with. I want this Adrenaline team to appreciate what opportunities they're given."
After the loss to the Fever, it would have been easy for the guys to feel discouraged, a little disappointed. But we as a community, we as fans, should remember- these guys have been given an opportunity to play football- to be professional athletes.
And diamonds aren't created over night- it takes time, patience, and more than a little pressure.