Vai's View: Vai's View: Food for thought from BYU's Education Week

Published: Friday, Aug. 19 2011 11:00 a.m. MDT

It was an awesome sight to see a thousand missionaries in the MTC during lunch. The lunch room is twice the size from when I was there in 1982 and there's hand sanitizer dispensers at every line before they get their food and after they dispose of their trays. It seems everyone walks around rubbing their hands. Clearly, cleanliness is next to godliness.

Mid-week, I shot the second and final part of a segment for BYUtv for their upcoming fall series called, "Legends." I wasn't being self-deprecating when I told the producers I don't consider myself a "BYU Legend." I was just being honest. I played in some of the biggest games in the program's history and had memorable moments, but not a career. But I do recognize that being the first Tongan to attend BYU on a football scholarship after immigrating to the United States as a boy to be a prize fighter is unique and my unexpected success in the NFL and post-NFL career in broadcasting has elevated my status. In late June, a crew came east to interview my family and follow me around for two or three days.

The program's host is Curt Doussett, a local actor and host who has shows on the Discovery and History Channel. Curt and I bonded immediately. He's handsome, talented and an "everyman" kinda host. An interesting portion of each "Legend's" profile will have Curt challenging the legend in some sort of physical competition. I won't give it away, but we shot my challenge in LaVell Edwards Stadium and it was a blast. Look for it in October.

Also shot a BYU promo that will feature myself, Steve Young, Jimmer Freddette, Chad Lewis, Bronco Mendenhall and LaVell Edwards. The promo has us interacting with a live cougar — not Demi Moore. I mean, a real life 200-pound puma. Really. It's pretty cool and was produced by my friend Julie Walker. She's scary talented. You'll know it when you see it.

Finally, a word about Education Week. When I was a student, I was always annoyed every August because scores of old people completely took over the campus, making it difficult to get around because they walked so slowly. It also made it tough to find parking or get a burger in the Cougar Eat.

Now, I'm proud that I'm one of those old people. And though I can speed-walk, I shuffle slowly just to annoy young students. I'm subsidizing their tuition, so I'm not really concerned. Perhaps if I knew all that when I was a BYU student, I wouldn't have been so annoyed. Amazingly, there is a class at Ed Week that addresses this very condition from which I suffer. It's called, "Quicken your step, don't be a nuisance!" Just kidding.

Education Week is amazing. There seems to be a class for everything under the sun. We discovered it three years ago and haven't it missed since. We always get dorm rooms just to enhance the experience. We have a teenage daughter, a married son and two RM young single adult sons, so we take classes that suit our needs and typically we meet for lunch and try to take at least one class together as a family. I told my kids I'd have been a better student if I could've gone each day to the classes I wanted, ate lunch when I wanted, and left for home when I wanted. My smart-aleck daughter responded, "Dad, isn't that basically what you did? Your whole BYU experience was like Ed Week." Touche.

A highlight was sitting in all week in Justin Su'a class. Justin is a sports psychology consultant who works with professional athletes in finding that elusive place jocks call the "zone." Justin just happens to be a masterful teacher and his personality, experience and credentials make him a very popular guest lecturer. His class revolved around, "Spiritual Peak Performance: Look unto the Lord in Every Thought; Doubt Not, Fear Not." I've known Justin since he was an All-American pitcher on BYU's baseball team and his signature split-finger fast ball befuddled hitters in the Mountain West Conference.

Justin is Samoan, grew up in Southern California, and is unique because he played baseball rather than football. He wasn't baptized till 13 because that's when his dad returned to church activity. Justin served a mission to Nicaragua, returned to resume his studies playing baseball, married his beautiful wife Melissa and graduated in communications. Injuries prevented a pro career so he sought my advice on being a sportscaster. He interned for my good friend Fred Rogan at KNBC in Los Angeles, but that helped him realize TV wasn't for him. So, he returned to Utah, earned a master's degree from the U. and became a successful sports psychology consultant working with pro and Olympic athletes to maximize their talent. I was so proud listening and watching him teach. Each of his classes filled to capacity so they created an overflow room.

Justin Su'a is a terrific candidate for "BYU Legends." Certainly, he's more qualified than me.

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