By Dan Duddy
I recently had the honor to direct the third annual Brian Leonard Football Camp last week. As you may know Brian is one of the top “third down backs” on the offense for the Cincinnati Bengals. I am getting to know Brian more and more each summer, and like most people I once only knew him as the guy who would literally hurdle would-be tacklers as he carried the ball for the upstart Rutgers football program. Brian has made the famous “Leonard Leap” several times in the NFL as well, satisfying on-going bettors during his transition to “the show” by answering the question “Can he get away with that in the NFL?”
Brian’s greatest leap was getting to the NFL. He comes from a tiny impoverished town in upstate New York called Governeur. Where there are Amish carriages pulled by horses slowing down eighteen wheelers on the two lane highways that cut through mountains, white puffy clouds and blue skies.
Brian was with the kids every second of the four day camp. He wanted me and my buddy to bring a camp to “his kids” in his home town where he never had one growing up. When Brian spoke to the group of nearly one hundred everyday, he never left out “family” and “remembering where you’re from”. Mr. Leonard, his dad, was with him most of the time, especially at lunch where they would share a lunch packed by Mrs. Leonard. A conglomeration of sandwiches of tuna on wonder white bread, a baggie of chips, and a couple of home made rice krispie treats. This was the same lunch that I gave to my eight year old last spring. Brian saw me staring at the care package and innocently said “want some coach?”
Brian is excited to know that the Bengals are putting him on the field more this year. He was told to lose weight so he can carry the ball on first and second down as well, so he didn’t eat the rice krispy treats.
Brian not only made the leap from his barn- lined high school football field to national TV, but his coach who gets paid millions to WIN, is putting Brian on the field more in order to do so.
Why is that? It’s simple, because Brian is a man of simple prioritized values. His family is number one; he serves others, and never will forget where he comes from. Character wins games, and character is founded in humility, like Brian Leonard’s.