By Lenn Robbins
The media had a good laugh with Jared Lorenzen but not nearly as much laughter as the former Giants and Kentucky quarterback had every day.
Lorenzen could throw a football a country mile. He could devour a buffet table like an offensive lineman breaking off a fast. And just about everyone that ever knew him said the same thing:
“He’s the sweetest guy in the whole wide world.”
That’s what his ex-wife, Tamara Michelle Tabar, told ESPN years ago.
Lorenzen died Wednesday at the way too young age of 38. He was 13 pounds, three ounces at birth. He battled obesity his entire life. Finally, tragically, his heart and kidneys couldn’t keep up.
For those of you too young to know Lorenzen, he has a Super Bowl ring with the Giants. Yep, he was Eli Manning’s backup when the Giants beat the Patriots, 17-14, in Super Bowl XLII. You need to Google, ‘David Tyree Helmet Catch.’ Trust me.
For those of you old enough to have seen Lorenzen play either at Kentucky or with the Giants, he broke all the rules of what a quarterback should look like. He was 6-4, 320 pounds (wink, wink). But he also was deceptively nimble
Manning credits his backup for helping him make one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history.
Manning, facing a third-and-five at the Giants 44, was all but sacked by the Patriots. Somehow, he squirmed free and lofted a ball deep down the middle of the field. Tyree pinned the ball to the crown of his helmet. Gain of 32. The Giants would go on to win the game.
Afterward Manning said that Lorenzen helped him learn how to escape tackles. Only quarterbacks could tackle quarterbacks in practice. The 6-5, 218-pound Manning rarely escaped Lorenzen.
“All the work I had with Jared Lorenzen, I think that was a big help in helping me get out of that pocket,” Manning told reporters. “You had to move around and the other quarterbacks had to strip the ball out. Lorenzen took it to the next level and it was like he was the D-tackle trying to get a sack.”
Lorenzen would quip to friends that he was the best tackling quarterback in the NFL.
He simply was too overweight to be counted on to be a team’s starter. His weight would balloon way into the mid-300’s as soon as a season was done. The day after the 2013 season ended with Super Bowl XLVIII in MetLife Stadium, Lorenzen suited up for the Northern Kentucky River Monsters of the Continental Indoor Football League.
He suffered a gruesome injury, breaking his tibia and rupturing ligaments. At 33, his football career was over, which meant no working out, no team nutritionists, trainers and dieticians.
Lorenzen did stand a chance.
In the days after he died so many friends, family, current and former NFL players and media members all spoke about what a sweet man Lorenzen was. His kindness. His sense of humor.
Heck, he would go on radio shows and rattle off a list of his nicknames that would make Charles Barkley envious. Hefty Left. Pillsbury Throwboy. Round Mound of Touchdown. Aircraft Carrier. Airbomber. Agile, Hostile and Hungry.
Go ahead and laugh. Some of them are funny. Lorenzen laughed.
But here’s the deal. In this era of political correctness, body shaming of men rarely gets a peep. A friend of mine, who is a large man, once joked, “You never see a tall guy in a big and tall men’s store.”
He’s one of the sweetest guys I know. After he lost weight, he said to me one night, “You know all the jokes and stares? It hurt man. It really hurt.’’