O.J. Brigance inspired Ravens during Super Bowl run


Former Ravens special team captain O.J. Brigance won a Super Bowl title with the Ravens in 2000. Now stricken with ALS, Brigance served as a source of inspiration for the Super Bowl XLVII champions.

O.J. Brigance didn't play a major role during the Baltimore Ravens' first Super Bowl run in 2000-01, when the Ravens eventually defeated the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV, 34-7.

That season, Brigance appeared in all 16 regular season contests, and served as Baltimore's special teams captain.

Though he's been retired for nearly a decade, Brigance made an impact on the 2012 Ravens, once again playing a part with a Super Bowl winning team.

Now stricken with ALS, Brigance is confined to a wheelchair, and he needs a computer to speak. Brigance served as Baltimore's honorary captain during the Ravens' 28-13 AFC Championship win over the New England Patriots, and serves as a source of inspiration for the Ravens.

"There aren't enough words to describe what that man means to me and to this team," punter Sam Koch said. "Just seeing 'Juice' here with a smile on his face is inspiring. If I have to choose a word for him, it would be 'powerful.'"

Brigance suffered ALS symptoms for the first time in 2007, and his condition has worsened ever since.

Still, Brignace marches on, and credits both his wife and his Christian faith for supplying the strength he needs to fight his illness.

Talk to O.J. Brigance about football or life, and like it or not, he'll raise the subject dearest to his heart, his Christian faith. Without that, he said - and without Chanda - he'd never have realized the truth that sustains him: His tragedy could be his strength.

Brigance not only served as inspiration for the latest Super Bowl champions, but according to the Baltimore Sun, he's also raised over $1 million dollars worth of support for ALS research, helping others who are stricken, and will be stricken, with the same disease he has.

"I believe that despite my diagnosis, I will walk again," Brigance said. "This team believes no adverse circumstances will stop them from achieving their goal of being world champions in football and in life.

The Ravens achieved their goal on Sunday night, becoming Super Bowl XLVII champions.

While not everybody was rooting for the Ravens, everybody certainly is rooting for Brigance. Here's hoping that Brigance achieves his goal, and walks again -- sooner, much rather than later.

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