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ESPN's Joe Tessitore on why the deaths of Nebraska and MSU players hurt so deeply

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Saturday night, Nebraska punter Sam Foltz and recent Michigan State punter Mike Sadler died in a car accident in Wisconsin. LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye was injured in the wreck and released from a local hospital.

Foltz and Sadler were working as coaches at a kicking camp for young players, with Delahoussaye set to join in on Sunday.

The instant outpouring of love and condolences on social media among Michigan State people and Nebraska people was touching for several reasons. One of them is that it's not common for specialist players to mean so much to so many people. Both were good at their duties on the field and brought joy to the sport (like that time Sadler celebrated a play by petting an invisible cat, a little joke just for his many buddies on Twitter). But their near-universal reputations among people who knew them as quality young men has clearly left more of a mark.

ESPN play-by-play announcer Joe Tessitore, whose son was an attendee at that camp, explains part of the reason for the strong reaction:


It was devastating. You have to understand the circumstances of Sam and Mike and what was going on this weekend and what's been going on for many weekends at showcase camps among the specialists and the role that these guys played with these high school prospects.

The storm was horrible last night in Wisconsin, so much so that we had to cancel the evening punting and kicking sessions. So all the prospects gathered in the gym, and it was Sam Foltz who took the microphone and filled that time with an inspirational story of motivation and mentoring and leadership and his own life story of going for a dream and becoming a walk-on and eventually becoming one of the best football players at Nebraska, headed into his senior year, where big things were expected.

And Mike Sadler was an Academic All-American at Michigan State, who gave of his own time, coming back to this camp, year after year to help these kids and coach them. Both of them didn't have to be there, weekend after weekend. Greatest gift I think we can all give is to impact young people, and that's what they did. I have first-hand knowledge of that, with the fact that both of them have coached and mentored my son in recent years. They truly served others.

For the last moment that we saw them in public, to be doing that, to be talking to young people, coaching young people ... for those same young people, then 12 hours later, to receive the news that they received today? Todd, it was utterly devastating. And my heart breaks for Sam and Mike's families, for Michigan State and Nebraska communities.

These guys were labeled as specialists. They were special in every way.


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