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Three Nebraska players ... three living legends ... three College Football Hall-of-Famers ... three grown men who are dedicating their lives to helping others while inspiring their own families at the same time. In this, a week when the Universities of Nebraska and Iowa honor heroes among us, we remember that Nebraska football has its own heroes that reach out and touch hearts, minds, lives, families and communities. Here are three legendary leaders leaving lasting legacies for others:
Dave Rimington: Small Things, Great Love
Mother Teresa said: "We can do no great things, only small things with great love" and that's how the only player ever to win the Outland Trophy in consecutive years (1981-82) approaches his life after football. Thirty years ago, Rimington became the only lineman in Big Eight Conference history to become the league's Offensive Player of the Year, an unparalleled achievement to this day.
The first Nebraska student-athlete to be inducted into the CoSIDA Academic All-America Hall of Fame, Rimington is also the first and only Husker to have a national trophy named after him and the first and only NU grad to have a Big Ten Conference trophy named after him. As ground-breaking as his athletic achievements have been, Rimington's daily passion is raising funds for Cystic Fibrosis research as president of the New York-based Boomer Esiason Foundation.
Grant Wistrom: Caring, Making Things Better
Dr. Seuss said: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better." Wistrom was the anchor of Nebraska's defense that produced three national championships and 49 wins in 51 games. After that, the 1997-98 Big 12 Conference Male Athlete of the Year started on the St. Louis Rams Super Bowl championship team and helped the Seattle Seahawks reach the Super Bowl.
Fame, fortune and athletic success are fine, but not the driving force behind this Missouri native who launched this own foundation to help children in need. "When a child suffers, the whole family suffers," Wistrom said. "Working with kids and their families really helps you put life into perspective. They're so positive, so courageous and so appreciative."
Will Shields: Serving with Your Heart
Muhammed Ali said: "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth." Shields lives every day with a servant's heart. A 1992 Outland Trophy winner and 12-time All-Pro with the Kansas City Chiefs, Shields co-founded the Will to Succeed Foundation with his wife, Senia. Organized to guide, inspire and improve the lives of abused and neglected women and children, the foundation is at the root of Shields being named the 2003 NFL Man of the Year.
Shields' motivation for service started early as a college athlete. He says Tom Osborne had a profound impact on that mindset. "Through my experience as a voluntary mentor," Shields said, "I learned the value of community service and how one-on-one supportive relationships can positively affect young people. My foundation is a project of love, dedication and vision. We work to touch others' lives and in the process, create a healthier society for us all."
Shields will be inducted into the 2011 College Football Hall-of-Fame class on Tuesday, Dec. 6 at the 54th annual National Football Foundation Awards Dinner at New York City's historic Waldorf-Astoria Hotel.
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