I’ve been meaning to use this venue as an opportunity to thank a friend who kept me from becoming a hood ornament on the front of a bus seven years ago. This isn’t a figurative tail where I talk about how someone inspired me in a time of need. This is a story about how someone literally saved me from dying. It took place back in the winter of 2000. The dude who did the saving is Brent Blackwell. I met Brent in an anatomy class during my junior year at UM. I thought I remembered the name from a few years previous. I mentioned there was a Blackwell that had recently played football for UM. He said that was him. Anyhow, he was a stand-up guy. He answered all of the million questions that I asked him about his experiences with UM football. I asked him the usual questions like, “who was the fastest player you ever saw at UM?” and annoying stuff like that. His answer to that particular question was Amani Toomer which did surprise me a bit. I was expecting a DB since they all supposedly run 4.3 in the forty. I told him that I had so much confidence in Michigan beating NC State in the 1993 Hall of Fame Bowl that I bet Michigan -42. I was certain I was going to take home a crisp ten dollar bill but Michigan wasn’t up to the task (the boys in Blue only managed to win by 35). To his credit, he let me ramble on about crap like that. He even considered joining our intramural basketball team before wisely declining. Maybe we would have won a game.
I’m guessing since Brent didn’t finish his career at UM that some people might not remember him. So I’ll relate a few things that I remember. I’m fairly certain that I recall Brent telling me that he transferred to Western Illinois before returning to Michigan to complete his degree. Western Illinois is the same place that David Bowens ended up transferring to after breaking Michigan’s single-season sack record in 1996. It is also the alma mater of former NFL madman Bryan Cox. Brent also has the interesting distinction of being the only player that I have ever seen play SS, LB, and DE in college. If anyone out there knows of another player that has done that, let me know. Here is some additional background information from the Bentley Historical Library.
On to the heroics. One day after class, we were walking along the C.C. Little bus stop next to the Museum of Natural History. I decided that I was going to ignore everything that I was ever taught about crossing the street and not look both ways. In fact, I didn’t look any way. I just blindly took the plunge into the bus lane. I’m still waiting for my plaque for the dumbest decision ever made by a human being. Before I knew what happened, I was being pulled back onto the sidewalk and a bus went flying right in front of me. It must have missed me by an inch or two. I can’t imagine it’s an easy feat to notice a bus barreling down on a person and pulling that person out of the street before getting blasted. Reflexes like that are why people like Brent play college-level athletics and people like me watch said college-level athletes on TV. I would have been one of those tragic victims of a freak accident that happen every year or two on campus where a student is hit by a bus or falls out of a dorm window. I have to say that I am glad I didn’t go out like that. I was not what you could call an early bloomer in terms of accomplishing things in life. I was 20 and had, for the most part, lived a meaningless existence. Luckily, I had struck up somewhat of a friendship with Brent or my life would have ended on the front page of the Michigan Daily in 2000. I’m sure there are countless occurrences everyday where people come close to dying without knowing it. This was not one of those occurrences. Thanks, Big Hit!