Monday, February 8, 2010

HJ Column February 7

Today all of the players on the winning Super Bowl team will earn a ring. It will be a huge diamond laced ring and will be something they will cherish for the rest of their lives. Everyone knows what the Super Bowl is and there is a natural admiration and curiosity about anyone who played on a team that won a Super Bowl.
Last week my wife and I went to San Diego to be spectators a golf tournament. We go most years because we want to get away from the bitter cold in Cache Valley. Torrey Pines is a beautiful place to visit, and we enjoy strolling around the golf course watching people and watching a little golf. Tiger Woods usually plays. He didn’t show up this year because he is dealing with some personal issues. So this year we didn’t see Tiger, but we did meet by accident another person of note, Daniel Audick. Before last Sunday Karen and I had absolutely no idea who Daniel Audick was. We were going to find out real soon.
Karen and I have some rather unique chairs that we take with us to lean on when we get tired of standing. We had settled in at the 17th hole with a bunch of other people and were making good use of our chairs when this man approached Karen about her chair. He asked if he could take a look at it, try it out to see if it would be something he could use. When we finished with the chair, he concluded that he was much too large of a man to use one but thanked Karen for letting him take a look at it. Then he said, “Oh, by the way, my name is Daniel Audick.” In return both Karen and I introduced ourselves and began chit chatting with Dan. We told him that we come to San Diego often to the golf tournament and that we were from Utah. Dan told us he was from San Diego and just lived a short distance from the golf course. Karen and Dan began speculate with one another about how long of a put various golfers would have to get the ball into the hole. I joined in. It became kind of friendly competitive between the three of us. The correct distance for each put was posted on the scoreboard so it was easy to see whose guess was the closest.
At one point there was a break in the golfing action, no golf balls on the green to speculate about, the conversation kind of lagged. Then Dan said, “I want to show you something.” He took an enormous ring off the ring finger on his right hand and said, “Have you ever seen one of these?” Karen and I are pretty na├»ve about most stuff and as far as we could tell it was just a very big expensive ring with lots of diamonds. We both silently thought Dan must have been pretty wealthy guy.
Then Dan said, “Would you like to hold it,” and handed it to Karen. We both looked at all of the diamonds and noted that the ring had his name “Daniel Audick” engraved on one side, and the Roman Numerals XVI on the other. We still didn’t get it. Then Dan said, “That’s my Super Bowl ring.” With our mouths wide open in amazement we took a closer look. We discovered that in addition to the Roman Numerals XVI there was a small engraving of the Golden Gate Bridge and the numbers 26 – 21 on the other side. After Dan told us that it was his Super Bowl Ring we took another look at all of the diamonds and figured out that they were in the shape of a football. This was indeed a Super Bowl ring and we were talking to its owner, Dan Audick.
Knowing that we were talking to a Super Bowl Champion led us into all kinds of interesting conversation with Dan. It’s not every day that you get to hold a Super Bowl championship ring and talk to the player who earned it. We asked lots of questions and found our that he played offensive tackle for San Francisco in 1981, the year the 49ers won the Super Bowl, score 26 - 21. I made a stupid comment when I asked how it was to play football with Steve Young as the quarterback. Dan quickly corrected me and said Joe Montana was the quarterback of the 49ers in 1981. I felt kind of dumb.
We learned that Dan’s parents were in the military and he lived in lots of places both foreign and domestic. He graduated from High school in Colorado and was recruited to play football for Hawaii. He was drafted by the Pittsburg Steelers and subsequently played for the St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Chargers before joining the 49ers for the 1981-1982 season. Dan is not a big guy probably about 6’3, about 225 pounds and by today’s standards would be considered undersized for the position he was playing. He told us that his job was to protect Joe Montana’s blindside from the pass rushes of the defensive players. Dan asked if we had seen the movie “Blindside.” He told us that the movie was based on a book “The Blind Side: Evolution of the game.” A small part of the book was written about him and how he played an important part in the evolution of the left tackle position in protecting the quarterbacks blindside from the pass rushing defensive ends.
Our encounter with Daniel Audick at Torrey Pines made our day. Tiger may have been missing but Dan was a delight to visit with. And it all happened because of a Super Bowl championship ring. We agreed to meet him next year at the same spot on the 17th green at Torrey Pines.

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