I am saddened with a tremendous sense of loss with the passing of my old teammate Brad VanPelt. Brad was a great player when we played together for the New York Giants. I was honored to join him and Brian Kelly as the linebackers in mid 1976. We played well together as a group and with their support I was able to learn and somewhat master the position I was asked to play by the Giants coaches. We knew we were a good trio playing for the Giants defense in the late 1970s but we rose to a much higher level with addition of Lawrence Taylor. We became known as the “Crunch Bunch” a quartet of the best linebackers in the National Football League of the early 80s. With his tall frame, boyishly good looks, blond hair and wearing his #10 jersey Brad played with great pride representing the New York Football Giants. Most people will live with those memories when they hear the name Brad VanPelt.
I will always live with the relationships I formed with all of my teammates. To me, those are the things I carry with me long after the wins and losses. Brad, Brian and Lawrence are like my brothers that I love as if they are really my next of kin. The laughs we shared and the personal issues we’ve supported one another through have bound us together for life. After our playing days we joined one another yearly to play golf together in Hawaii for the NFL Charities Tournaments. We spoke frequently either on the phone or when we were all in the New York area or anytime we were together taking part in events. But two of the more special times that I will always embrace were going the Mexico to help build homes with former President Jimmy Carter for Habitat for Humanity and visiting the wounded soldier returning from Iraq at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, DC. It was during those times that we very seldom talked about football. Actually it wasn’t about talking about anything it was more about just being in the presence of one another that was soothing to our collective souls. As former football players we took great joy in doing good works and making people smile.
Brad was a wonderful and loyal friend who died much too soon. With his wisdom, his passion for helping others, his zest for living and broad smile there was much he should have been able to contribute to make a difference in the lives of many people, especially young athletes.
I love my teammates! And right now I’m missing one of my favorites, Brad VanPelt.