Tom Rabb got Chad Lewis-ized. It took place last weekend in Philadelphia, site of the Eagles' overtime victory over the Green Bay Packers.
Rabb, you may remember, is Lewis' former high school coach at Orem High. He now lives in Alpine and works part-time for Murray School District.
This past weekend, Lewis finally tackled his old coach and brought him to an NFL game, all expenses paid, to enjoy the atmosphere and see his former pupil perform. Lewis was going to get Rabb there one way or another.
Previous attempts to lure the humble, quiet Rabb to one of Lewis' games failed. This time, Lewis joked he'd have Rabb captured and handcuffed to his brothers and brought to the game if he had to.
"It was a great experience," Rabb said. "I was really excited to see the game, meet Eagles fans, players and, of course, to see Chad, who introduced me to head coach Andy Reid."
Lewis took care of it all airline, hotel, game tickets. Rabb may have had to buy a burger or two.
The former BYU tight end, who was a key leader on BYU's 1996 Cotton Bowl team that went 14-1, has established a good guy legacy. The most remarkable thing about the all-pro Lewis is he's never forgotten his roots and what got him to where he is. He's the same 10-year-old kid I met one day while handing out pads for an Orem Jaycees youth football team. Lewis is eager, hungry, enthusiastic, brutally honest, loyal as a collie and as hard a worker as you'll ever find.
He's your basic walking Dale Carnegie, a chatty, friendly two-legged collection of "How to Win Friends and Influence People," "How to Stop Worrying and Start Living," "The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Speaking" and "Don't Grow Old, Grow up."
Chad Lewis, whose wife Michelle just delivered their fourth child, a son, Jefferson Chad, during the Eagles' bye week the first of this month, is like that; everything in order, a baby during a timeout.
When the NFL sought to send an ambassador to China, they called Lewis because he not only speaks Mandarin Chinese, he's Carnegie. He's a milk-drinking, vise-grip handshaking, all-American poster boy.
Lewis walked on at BYU after an LDS mission, with no promise of a scholarship. Four years later, he was holding the Cougars together during a hard-fought WAC championship game with Wyoming in Las Vegas after teammate Itula Mili went down with a serious knee injury.
Lewis was the glue on that team. He almost willed the Cougars to a title. Later, he went against the odds and made an NFL roster. Later, he was selected as an all-pro. Lewis is a walking motivational speech on how to succeed when odds are against you.
"Chad worked very hard at everything he did. He was dedicated to what he believes in," Rabb said.
And he should know. Lewis was a junior on Orem's 1987 state championship team that defeated Skyline. The next year, with the lone returning starter, Bryan Rowley, switched from tailback to quarterback, Lewis was a senior and helped lead Orem back to the 4A title game, losing to Alta in 1988.
Rabb was instrumental in providing Lewis his positive foundation, according to teammate Greg Kennedy, a linebacker on that squad. Kennedy drove from Washington, D.C., to Philadelphia to join Rabb and two of Lewis' brothers at the playoff win.
"Rabb had a dedication to martial arts," Kennedy said. "The night before each game, coach Rabb had players close their eyes and visualize the game; tackling, catching, running, while he talked through play scenarios.
"The players saw themselves making plays and did the same things the next day in the game. He'd also give his team a quote of the week like "If it's to be, it's up to me," and "Give me a lever long enough and a fulcrum strong enough and I can move the world."
A lot of that leaked out and stuck with Chad Lewis.
This weekend's showdown between the Eagles and Carolina Panthers has a ton of local college ties, guys like Lewis who have climbed a mountain. It's a chore to think of another playoff game in the NFL with so many local guys facing one another.
The former Cougars in this game on the Eagle side are Lewis, running back Reno Mahe and linebacker Justin Ena. Of course, Reid, the head coach, played for BYU in the late '70s.
The Panthers feature former Ute receivers Kevin Dyson and Steve Smith and tackle Jordan Gross.
It should be a doozy.Pick your hero. Rabb's already got his.
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