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HardJedi
12-21-04, 04:22 PM
Copied from a Sports Illustrated article by Rick Reilly.


He's just a walk-on. Number 38 in your program, zero in your heart. Means nothing to you. Just another sadly spotless jersey on the sideline.

So how is it that Josh Amstutz is the toughest, bravest and most inspirational member of Texas A & M's football team?

Well, look at his right leg. There are two scars left by a bullet that passed through it almost two ears ago, a gift from an Iraqi sniper. How he runs on it as well as he does is anybody's guess.

Look at his jaw. It was stern and square enough for the Marine honor guard that flanked President Clinton during ceremonial events at the White House and led George W. Bush down Pennsylvania Avenue on Inauguration Day.

Look at his eyes. They're practically Aggie maroon-and-white. What other 23-year-old Purple Heart winner would volunteer as scout-team meat five day's a week just so he can stand on the sidelines on Saturdays in the fall yelping, "Gig 'em Aggies" ?

"I can't believe I'm on the team," say's Amstutz, an A&M sophomore with freshman elegibility. "One practice it was pretty hot and everybody was complaining. But I thought to myself, Hey, this isn't bad. It beats being in 120 degrees in Iraq in a hazardous chemical protective suit. And at least nobody's shooting at me."

You want to ***** about the training table? There were days when all he had to eat was one dried meal. " The scary part." he says, " was we got so hungry, we started liking it." In fact, when he was recuperating iin the hospital after he got shot, a doctor saw him take a cookie off of his tray and hide it under his pillow.

"What are you doing?" the doctor asked.

"Saving food for later, Sir." Amstutz admitted.

"Son," said the doctor, " you don't have to do that anymore."

You want to rag about the road hotel? This is a guy who dug a hole for his bed every night, " as deep as you could get it before you fell asleep." And every time praying you weren't digging our own grave.

You want to whine about the pressure of big time college football? Amstutz had to kill people. " All my teammates ask me that question, but it's not soomething I want to talk about," he says. But he carried a machiine gun and an M-16 with a grenade launcher, and concedes that he did kill other men.

Through it all, he never gave up his football dream. Gave up? Hell, it's what kept him going.

A tight end as Jasper(Ind.) High, catching passes from eventual LSU standout Matt Mauck, he actually had two goals: become a United States Marine, and play college football. How could he know that one dream would almost wipe out the other?

Amstutz reported to bootcamp three days after he graduated from Jasper in 1999, and he became such a dogged Marine- he could stand for hours and hours without so much as twitching- that he was assigned to the White House eight weeks out of camp. " The only bad thing about the White House is the crazy squirels there," he says. "They jump around in the trees, and the branches slap you in the face and you can't do a thing about it."

WHile in D.C., he met Fox TV intern and Texas A&M alum Jessica Fontenot and eventually married her. On a trip out west with Fontenot in November 2001, Amstutz witnessed one of the great spectacles in college football: a Texas A&M game in College Station. " I knew right then I wanted toplay for the Aggies," he says.

But 9/11 made him itch to fight. Before being shipped out to the Middle East, Amstutz said goodbye to his father-in-law, who was dying of cancer. " I won't be here when you get back, " Jessica's dad said,"So come home and take care of my little girl."

That suddenly looked doubtfull on April 8, 2003, when Amstutz's unit was checking out a tip that there was a weapons cache in a school. "Bullets started whizzing by like in Saving Private Ryan," he remembers. One went clean through his leg, just above the knee. He dragged himself to a medic, who told him that he was lucky. The bullet got only muscle.

Yet he wouldn't give up his dream of playing football. For ayear he put all of his Marine determintation into rehabbing that leg and added 40 pounds to his post Iraq weight if 155. Having served his four years of active duty, he enrolled in a junior collge in the fall of '03, transferred to A&M this year and in august was one of about 60 students to try out for a half dozen walk-on spots. He made the team as a saftey - Rudy with a bullet.

" When I first met him, he told me, 'It's an honor to be in the same locker room with you,'" says the Aggies NFL bound wide reciever, Terrence Murphy. " But now that I know his story, I think the same exact thing about him."

Amstutz hasn't been in a game yet, but if he couold get in for just one play, " I'd want to cover a kickoff. That's my dream. I wouldn't want any big glory thing. Just one kickoff."

On New Years Day the Aggies play Tennesseeat the Cotton Bowl. Hey, Coach Dennis Franchione, can't you put him in?

After all, He went in for you.

HardJedi
12-21-04, 04:30 PM
Ya know, I live in an appartment, about a block from my mail box. The day I got this, I was on my way to work, and stopped to get my mail. I opened the magazine and saw this article, and after reading It, I had to sit there for about a half hour and try not to cry.

I know that there are greater tragedies in this would than Marine taking a bullet in the leg. It's just that last line really got to me. The one about him going in for you. Got me to thinking again.( OH GOD NO! LOL)


So I wrote the Coach of Texas A&M a long ass Letter, BEGGING him to play this young Marine. He might not deserve special treatment any more than thousands of other young men and women who have put thier lives on the line for this country, anbd probably wouldn't even like the fact that I wrote his coach a letter asking for him to be played.


But here's my thinking. This Marine was fortunate. And by granting his dream, maybe it would be kinda liking granting the dreams of ALL the Maines who never came home to try and accomplich thiers. MAybe I am just silly and stupid, I don't know. But I bet at the very least, it would mean alot to the Guy's in his old unit.

Kids, Men, Marines almost never get to find thier dreams outside the Corps, and it wouldn't hurt ANYTHING to let this kid cover ONE kickoff. Small price to pay, so that the nation can sleep at night with no threat of being snatched from thier homes and being beheaded, don't ya think?

MillRatUSMC
12-21-04, 04:54 PM
Yes, I think he should get to play, if just for one kick off.
Yet, a little thought comes to mind;
"What does he really desire?"
Maybe he just want to be there, with no special favors.
Knowing that sooner of later, he will get a chance to play.
As Marines, we would like to see him play.
I for one, seeing that he a fellow "Hoosier", one being from Indiana.
Wonder if will seek a commission on graduating from Texas A&M?
Will the wound make that an impossibility?

Semper Fidelis/Semper Fi
Ricardo

hrscowboy
12-21-04, 04:59 PM
hell yes let the man play we all should write this couch and tell him let the young man play even if its just for a kick off. outstanding post hardjedi outstanding...

yellowwing
12-21-04, 05:03 PM
I think that this fine Marine, if he can play college ball, could excell in OCS and the Basic Course. Combat and White House duty looks good in an SRB.

I hope he does get to get on the special teams and cover a kickoff! One of my beloved Tennessee Volunteers could say 'hello' to him!

This Marine Amstutz has got a lot of guts! :marine:

HardJedi
12-21-04, 11:55 PM
and sometimes, guts and determination is all it really takes

CAR
12-22-04, 03:46 AM
I for one would love to see him play. That would be awsome. It would be a good gift if nothing else. Sure there is the aspect of "maybe he just wants to be part of the team" but I like to think that to have him run on the field and everyone stand and cheer would be more than just a "kickoff" it would be a roaring "Thank You" to a Marine who served his country well, and at A&M, they love their military boys.

When I left active duty I went back to IU and was planning to play football for the the Hoosiers. Never got the chance, cause when I was invited to walk on I was deployed on some reserve missions. Missed my boat. Good to see this Marine made his. Say thank you..... let him play.

woodman
12-22-04, 04:22 AM
It would be fantastic to see this remarkable young man get to play. My impression of the article is that this amazing kid wants to EARN getting on the field and if it were just given to him as a gift, it would tarnish it for him. What I would realy like to see the coach do in the mean time is have this kid lead his team mates on to the field. As any Marine can tell you when you earn something thats what makes it special.

CAR
12-22-04, 04:58 AM
Good point Woodman, and your probably right. I guess on the selfish side of me I would like to have the heart felt story. Either way it is great that he is able to be on the team after his injury.