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Remembering Sam Foltz and Mike Sadler

NCAA Football: Michigan State at Penn State Matthew O'Haren-USA TODAY Sports

In general, memorial pieces are some of the most difficult things to write. You can talk about the accomplishments, the impact, the relationships, and a myriad of other bullet points that make a person special, but it feels hollow because the reality is that the loss is still there. In a year with a lot of stuff that makes you long for the good old days of 2015, it’s tough to see two kids like Sam Foltz and Mike Sadler taken from us so soon.

The team at Off Tackle Empire wants to spend some time discussing what these two meant to us as players, representatives of our school and conference, and ultimately how they were they model for college football athletics. They were taken too soon, but you can tell they impacted everyone around them.

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Jesse: I remember when Brook Berringer passed away. I was eleven years old. I idolized him for his courage, for his athleticism, for his humility, for, well, everything. It was weird. I had never met the man, but I watched him every Saturday he stepped in for Tommie Frazier. I listened to him talk about the team. I watched him step aside for the transcendent Tommie Frazier. I cried when he died.

I was eleven years old when Brook Berringer died and now I am 31 years old as another man dies too soon, too suddenly, and too unfairly. I took some time to reflect on what I thought of Sam Foltz and the thing that blows me away is not the fact that I can easily compare the feelings I have for Sam with the feelings I had for Brook, but the fact that you can argue that Sam Foltz, noted beast-mode punter, evokes the same meaning in Nebraska speaks to something bigger than one can understand.

And here’s the thing. No one was surprised to see the outpouring of love for him in the past 48 hours. Not one person didn’t understand that he was a great punter with a career in the league ahead of him, but also that he was the best person on the team. A volunteer, an advocate, a face of the University. A kid from smalltown Nebraska who did well by himself, made the team after spurning lesser scholarships, and someone who became a star. He took that mantle upon himself and didn’t shy away.

There probably aren’t enough words for me to do justice to the lives of Sam Foltz and Mike Sadler. I didn’t know either of them personally. I just followed them on Saturdays, but these are the lives we should emulate. Doing good, volunteering, mentoring, and loving on friends and family. With so much awful in this world, the best we can hope for is to learn from their far too short example.

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Andrew Kraszewski: It’s tough to nail down why Mike Sadler’s death feels more real than the usual unfortunate news headline. I never met Sadler, but to me he feels as least as real as anyone associated with MSU’s program does to an outsider because of the effortless access his brilliant public wit gave us to the quality of his mind and spirit. A lot of the time, when a celebrity dies, I scroll through the social media expressions condolences and sorrows with a cynical eye because I assume most of them represent people just going through the motions, doing what is expected. I don't find myself thinking that today, which verifies the inkling you couldn’t help but get even in only 140 characters: Mike Sadler was something special, and the world is diminished without him.

In the event anyone should be so moved, Mike Sadler’s family established the Mike Sadler Legacy Football Scholarship Fund. No announcement has yet been made by the Foltz Family concerning any plans for a similar fund.