Sunday, December, 14 (11:53 p.m.):
James Laurinaitis after winning the Lott Trophy
“This is so surprising to me, but such a tremendous honor. I have to thank my Lord Jesus Christ for all the amazing blessings he has sent me and this is such a blessing. Knowing what this award stands for and knowing the reputation and character of Mr. Lott makes it very special. Hearing Keith Jackson announce my name is something I will never forget. It’s a credit to all my Ohio State teammates and an amazing honor. This is truly overwhelming.”
Sunday, December, 14 (9:17 a.m.):
James Laurinaitis in Newport Beach, California
“For the first time all week, we are seeing some sunshine it’s great! We traveled yesterday to Orange County, California, for the Ronnie Lott Trophy dinner tonight at the Pacific Club in Newport Beach. Flying out of Columbus after practice, we connected through Phoenix it was cool to see the stadium out the window of the plane but got delayed there on our connection to Santa Ana. We didn’t end up getting our luggage until 9 pm California time, and I was starved! So we were eating roast beef, pasta and mashed potatoes at midnight Columbus time at the Pacific Club grill.
It was good to see Brian Orakpo of Texas again after a few days apart, and nice to meet Myron Rolle of Florida State and his very laid-back brother Max. Rey Malauaga and Brian Cushing were texting Orakpo and me to see if we wanted to see any California nightlife they are only about 20 minutes from here but all I wanted to do was eat and go to bed. We might catch up with them Sunday afternoon before the dinner.
Nice to have my dad here for this award my mom and sister were lots of fun to travel with to Houston and Orlando. And it’s been really good to see all the people who run the various awards it’s like catching up with family when I see them since I met them all the past couple of years.
Beautiful weather here 60s already with a nice breeze and palm trees everywhere. If nothing else, I am getting to see America from corner to corner this week.”
Friday, December, 12 (4:41 p.m.):
“I was going to file a report on my time in Orlando after Thursday night’s awards show, but as you may have seen if you were watching on ESPN, I won the Jim Thorpe Award for the best defensive back in college football. So as soon as the show was over, it was media interviews on the phone, TV interviews there in Florida, and then time to celebrate with my family.
“The earlier part of Wednesday, it was raining in Orlando, so we didn’t go over to the Disney parks just too cold and wet but the ESPN show was the highlight of it all. One thing I noticed was that every time they showed highlights of past winners of any of the big awards, there was always a Buckeye mentioned. It’s still amazing to think I will someday be thought of in that company.
“This morning, James and I left the hotel at 7:30 to head for the airport and back to Columbus. From the time we got to our gate to wait on our flight, there were Buckeyes everywhere coming over and congratulating me. And everybody wanted a picture. One woman said, “This is maybe the best day of my whole life” well, I hope her life has a few more highlights than seeing us half-asleep and waiting on a plane.
“Same thing when we got back to Columbus people stopping us and saying congratulations and we’re proud of you guys and good luck in the bowl. I think a lot of them were trying to see if I had the trophy with me. No I will get the actual trophy at the Jim Thorpe banquet next February.
“We got back to the Woody Hayes just as the team meeting was breaking up and in plenty of time for today’s practice. Tomorrow morning, practice again, and then James heads out to California for the Lott Trophy dinner. I’m glad to be able to relax for a few days.”
Wednesday, December, 10 (11:37 p.m.):
Well, Round One in the buildup to the Fiesta Bowl goes to the Longhorns. Brian Orakpo won the Lombardi Award being a hometown guy from Houston, you sort of thought he would have the inside track. But it was a great banquet I think they told us 4,000 people were there the ballroom was huge. The biggest ovation went to the kids from the local hospitals who are battling cancer but still came to the dinner to cheer us on. We got to meet a bunch of them today when we visited the hospitals that is a classy thing that makes the Lombardi Award special.
I was really honored to have Buckeye All-American Jeff Uhlenhake introduce me at the dinner he was funny and eloquent and really well received by the crowd. I did not know he was such a polished speaker, or would look so sharp in a tux! I appreciate him coming down here for this, and I appreciate all the Ohio State fans I met all over the city. On the way back up the elevator tonight, there were some people (a lot older than me) from my home high school Wayzata in Minnesota even they recognized me and said, “Win that bowl!” I may have lost this trophy to a Longhorn, but there’s a lot more ahead before the season is finished.
Tomorrow, it’s down in the lobby of the hotel at 5:30 am for a car to the airport and our flight to Orlando. Malcolm texted and said it’s 85 in Florida he got there this afternoon that’s VERY good news because it actually snowed in Houston this evening. The streets and the trees are coated in white. Everybody here is all excited and saying, “You’re so lucky to be here on the rare day that it snowed” they forget I’m from Minnesota not such a big deal there J
More tomorrow and some from Malcolm… Go Bucks!
Wednesday, December, 10 (11:26 a.m.):
“We arrived in Houston yesterday for the Rotary Lombardi Awards it was raining when we got here and raining this morning or more of a steady drizzle and everyone is apologizing for the weather, although it’s still probably 60 degrees.
“Last night, we did a lot of interviews, and met a number of the people who are supporters of the American Cancer Society at a reception. When the Rotary Club here started the Lombardi Award 39 years ago, Mrs. Lombardi agreed they could use the Lombardi name as long as they did it as a way to fight cancer. That has been their mission ever since, and every bit of the proceeds go to fight cancer still today. Rey Malauga from Southern Cal is also here as a finalist, and when he spoke last night about how his dad fought cancer but died when he was a freshman at USC, you could see how that connected with everyone in the audience. All of us has someone among our family and friends who has battled cancer.
“The other finalists are Andre Smith, the big offensive lineman from Alabama, and Brian Orakpo, the defensive end from Texas. Brian is actually from Houston, so with that connection and the Longhorn Fever they have down here, the rest of us figure he is the favorite to win. There’s been a lot of back-and-forth about the Fiesta Bowl I’m sure that will continue.
“This morning, we will visit the kids at the MD Anderson Cancer Center and the Texas Children’s Hospital, signing autographs and taking pictures. A lot of the program is familiar to me because I was here last year, but it’s fun to be with these guys and talk football and other stuff.”