Football legend: Dads matter


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Tom McManus played for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

photo by George White

Being a good role model as a dad is something that remains an influence on your kids long after you are gone.

Learning how to create that lasting legacy through actions in the here-and-now is the thought behind the JustBeCAUSE men’s event held Aug. 16 at the Church at Viera.Dan Hancock, right, chats with volunteer John Potts.

“It’s getting dads out here in the community and talking together that we can be involved and motivating each other to want to be better men and be a good example in our kids’ lives, boys and girls,” said organizer Dan Hancock, who lost his father last year.

Hancock read “We’ll Always Be Pals,” published in 2008 by former NFL player Tom McManus, who came south from his home in Ponte Vedra Beach.

“I didn’t do the event last year just because I lost my dad and didn’t have the heart for it. I had read his book and I connected with it. I wanted to challenge myself to do the event like this this year.

“Especially when they’re gone, you realize how big an impact dads have. For the important stuff, you’ve got to be there,” Hancock said.

 McManus, a motivational speaker for 15 years, was one of the original Jacksonville Jaguars players (1995 to 1999) at middle linebacker. Originally from Chicago, he played at Boston College.

“I do all types of groups: graduations, schools, sports teams, corporate America. It’s about accountability, a lot of tough love and looking in the mirror first. But it’s also about having the opportunity to have a great life. I love it. A big part of my talk, and the reason I got into it, is the story of my dad. My father was a B-24 bomber pilot in World War II and played football in the leather helmet era for Rutgers. He got shot down on his 23rd mission and was a prisoner of war for 23 months,” McManus said.

“It fits perfect for here because he was the best. If they made a great impact on you, you should make a great impact on your kids,” McManus said.

The crowd of about 300 dads and kids were out in the field playing games and gathering points for prizes. There was hard rain visible on the horizon in all directions but it never dampened the event.

With a good crowd despite the clouds, plans are starting up for next year’s event, Hancock said.