Some of Michael Carter-Williams' best memories as a kid were the sleepovers at his great-uncle Jimmy's house where plenty of root beer was consumed. He also loved the family gatherings at Jimmy's place on Christmas Eve every year.

Carter-Williams won't be able to make it to Jimmy's house in Massachusetts this year because he'll be traveling with the 76ers to start a western swing in Portland. But he has already sent Jimmy a special gift that commemorates his being named NBA rookie of the year last season.

"I couldn't imagine my success without Uncle Jimmy," Carter-Williams says.

See Jimmy's reaction when he opens the box and reads the heartwarming note that accompanies the gift:

Tim Tebow has a thing for making dreams come true.

Not one month after bringing a woman to tears simply by handing her a slice of cake, Tebow is putting in hours as a provider of Christmas miracles.

In Orlando earlier this week, the former Heisman winner, who now works for Good Morning America, helped treat Wal-Mart shoppers to an all-mighty gift: Paying off their Wal-Mart Layaway balances.

Layaway is a service Wal-Mart offers its customers where items are placed on hold until shoppers are able to pay the full balance. It's a popular service at Christmas time that helps customers make sure they get the gifts they want, and it's often used by shoppers who don't have the ability to pay for gifts at the moment.

As you can imagine, Tebow's understated reveal that the items were being paid for triggered the water works in customers, one of whom admitted that she had planned to take some items off layaway because she couldn't afford them.

The full segment, from Good Morning America, is here:

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Any goodwill is great to hear around the holiday season, but when you add in a little Tebow, you're sure to approach the saccharine levels that only Oprah hits on a regular basis.

Eddie Lacy was a teenager in southern Louisiana when Hurricane Katrina destroyed his family's home in 2005.

As Lacy excelled at Dutchtown High School, he slept on a couch in his family's trailer. As Lacy starred at Alabama, his parents and younger sister watched many of his games from that same trailer. Even after getting drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the second round in 2013, Lacy would sleep in the trailer when he returned home.

But Lacy knew his family deserved better, and he was determined to move his family into a home. That's exactly what he's done with part of the $3.39 million rookie deal he signed.

Construction on the Lacy's new house was finished earlier this year, and the family moved in in August. The 24-year-old Lacy took his first trip to the home on Oct. 28, during the Packers' bye week.

"I was happy, man. Just knowing that they don't have to be cramped up in that little trailer no more," Lacy recently told the Green Bay Post-Gazette. "They have a lot more room. It's just positive vibes all around. There's no reason for them to be like, 'Oh, we have to drive back to a trailer,' or 'Why are we still in a trailer?' It's more like, 'Coming home from work, at least I have a house and a comfortable bed that actually fits in a room, and we still have room to walk around and stuff like that.'

Lacy, the NFL's 2013 offensive rookie of the year, has five rushing touchdowns and 547 total yards this year.

Portable isn't usually a word associated with 2,000-pound bulls. But it is an apt description for the Professional Bull Riders' willingness to stage events anywhere that might be helpful to introducing more fans to their sport. The PBR isn't confined any location, because it can bring all that is needed -- including the bulls -- to set up for a day of competition. This concept was put to the test when the bulls hit the sands of Huntington Beach, a site more associated with beach volleyball. Check out riders on bucking bulls with palm trees in the background:

Last year, in HBO's documentary series State Of Play, director Peter Berg examined the dynamic of parents who become obsessed with the success of their kids in sports. Now, in another installment, Berg looks at the other end of the athletic career arc, retirement. In a segment that premieres 10 p.m. ET/PT Tuesday, Berg explores the search for happiness after football with Brett Favre, Tiki Barber and Wayne Chrebet. Here's a preview:

There's a white Ford F-150 pickup truck parked behind the Bierman Field Athletic Building at the University of Minnesota. It belongs to fourth-year head football coach Jerry Kill, who's probably the only head coach in the Big Ten driving a vehicle with over 70,000 miles on it.

The truck says a lot about Kill.

It represents his roots in rural Kansas, his no-frills approach, and his ability to navigate life's potholes without ending up in a ditch. But it's something of a miracle that Kill is driving at all. So when he climbs behind the wheel, cues up George Strait or Zac Brown Band, and heads to work each morning, he knows the truck represents the fulfillment of a promise he made to himself in the middle of the 2013 football season, when football took a backseat in his life. (Don't think getting a physical is worth it? It's just one of the 7 Nagging Health Problems You Shouldn't Ignore.)

That season was a spectacular one for a Golden Gophers program that hasn't won a Big Ten title since 1967. The team finished 8-4 and went to a bowl game for the second consecutive year. It's no surprise to college football insiders that the program turned around after Kill, 53, arrived in Minnesota from Northern Illinois University for the 2011 season. Working with a staff that's been with him from the start, Kill has turned losers into winners at schools like Saginaw Valley State, Emporia State, and Southern Illinois. Right now he's starting his 21st year as a head coach with 144 wins, putting him ahead of all his Big Ten peers.

Still, last season, some questioned Kill's fitness for the job, saying he should quit or be fired. It's not that Kill is a bad coach. It's that he's one of at least 2.2 million Americans with epilepsy.

"Epilepsy is a bad word to people," Kill says. "They don't understand it. In fact, a lot of people don't want others to know they have it."

Kill used to be one of them.

The ancients thought people with epilepsy were possessed by demons. The seizures can be shocking to witness, and that adds to the fear for -- and fear of -- people who have them. During a tonic-clonic seizure (formerly called a "grand mal"), one of the types that Kill gets, the victim usually drops to the ground and convulses; his eyes may roll back, and he may foam at the mouth and bleed from biting his tongue. Such an episode typically lasts one to three minutes. (Epileptics suffering from sudden, uncontrollable seizures may receive help through high-tech innovation. Check out one of the 10 Medical Breakthroughs That Sound Like Science Fiction.)

We now know that epilepsy is a neurological disorder; if you've had two or more unprovoked seizures separated by at least 24 hours, you're in the club. Seizures can result from a head injury, stroke, or brain tumor. In 60 percent of cases, though, the cause is unknown. Epilepsy can't be cured, but in many cases the seizures can be controlled through medication. A good diet, exercise, adequate sleep, and avoiding triggers such as stress and caffeine can help. Good luck with that plan if you're a Big Ten football coach.

"Some people are able to control their seizures with medication while others aren't," says Vicki Kopplin, executive director of the Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota. "Even among those who have them under control, it's possible to fall out of balance and have a setback."

It's easy to understand why so many people are reluctant to admit that they have epilepsy. In fact, until two years ago, Kill described his condition only as a "seizure disorder." He had beaten the kidney cancer he was diagnosed with back in 2005 and went on to build a successful career; epilepsy was not going to be his legacy.

But ignoring it became increasingly difficult. In fact, one of the character traits that helped him become successful may have also triggered his seizures: his capacity for hard work.

Kill's father, Jim,had a simple approach to work: "If someone pays you for eight hours, you give 'em 10," he'd say. Back in Kansas, Jim worked full-time on the flight line at Cessna Aircraft Company in Wichita; at home in Cheney, he grew crops and raised livestock -- and hardworking children -- on the family's modest 3 acres. Starting at age 14 or so, the Kill boys, Jerry and Frank, were the key farmhands. They baled hay, pulled rye, stacked wood. "My dad was a hard guy to please," Kill says today.

Like many of the young men in the area, Frank stayed in Cheney to start a business. But Jerry wanted to be the first in his family to get a college degree. He played outside linebacker at nearby Southwestern College, got married at age 21 to his college girlfriend, Rebecca, and began a slow rise through the coaching ranks. "We lived in a trailer for four or five years," he says with a wistful smile. "But we appreciated what we had."

When Kill landed his first head coaching job at Saginaw, he hired young coaches who were like him, men from small towns and small-time programs who were willing to put in long hours. Together they replicated their success blueprint on every step up the coaching ladder.

"We go to work. We play defense. We run the ball. We build it brick by brick," Kill says. "We've had to do it the hard way because of the programs we've taken over. Minnesota is not an easy job, but it's a good job."

But as the years passed, Kill's work ethic--the habits he learned that allowed him to compete against the best--began to work against him. (Be strong, energetic, and healthy like you were at 25!) Since arriving at Minnesota, he's had several seizures that caused him to miss game time, including two that occurred on the field. Current quarterback Mitch Leidner was sitting at the 50-yard line on a recruiting visit in September 2011 when Kill collapsed on the turf during a game against New Mexico State University.

"The whole stadium fell silent," he says.

Last season, Kill's seizures became more frequent. "I wasn't eating regularly; I was getting maybe two and a half hours of sleep a night," Kill says. "I needed to take better care of myself."

Finally, during the Gophers' game against Western Illinois in September 2013, Kill collapsed coming off the field at halftime. Local talk radio lit up with criticism, and one fan called him a "freak" in an e-mail.

"The face of your program can't belong to someone who may be rushed to the hospital at any moment of any game, or practice, or news conference," wrote Jim Souhan, a veteran sports columnist with the Minneapolis Star Tribune. "No one who buys a ticket to TCF Bank Stadium should be rewarded with the sight of a middle-aged man writhing on the ground. This is not how you compete for sought-after players and entertainment dollars."

Then, beginning on Friday, October 4, the day before the Gophers were to play an important game against the University of Michigan, Kill began to have what are known as cluster seizures--the kind that occur in quick succession. The seizures continued through Sunday. "I was pretty messed up," Kill admits.

That Saturday morning, with Kill in the hospital, Minnesota lost to Michigan, 42-13. "Bottom line is that I can't miss games. I know that. As a coach, missing a game just kills you."

"That was his wake-up call," his wife says. "He wasn't 20 years old anymore. He had to get his rest and take better care of himself." (Whether in your 20s, 30s, 40s, or 50+, you can still Live Great at Any Age.)

As word spread of Kill's condition and of columnist Souhan's call for his dismissal, a groundswell of support began steadily growing. Defenders were quick to point out that when Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio suffered a heart attack and missed two games in 2010, no one called for his firing. And even though Urban Meyer had left the University of Florida -- twice -- with at least one of the departures for unspecified health reasons, no one questioned whether Ohio State should have hired him.

"People thought Jim Souhan's column was disrespectful," says Kopplin, the epilepsy foundation director. "He was not educated about what people with epilepsy can and can't do. But in many ways, he's done more for epilepsy awareness than anyone. He brought the issue to light and started a conversation. It's unfortunate that his comments were negative, but they gave us an opportunity to educate people."

With top-level support at his university and a coaching staff that had been together for decades, Kill was able to step away for 10 days to recover. His players knew the drill, and they rallied to support their head coach by focusing on their responsibilities on the field.

"Stepping away allowed him to look at [his epilepsy] in the eye of the storm during a stressful season, not afterward, when there is less stress to deal with," says Gophers assistant head coach Matt Limegrover. "He got help from experts during the season when he had all the same triggers. He said, 'Let's get this under control.'"

Kill regained his balance. The doctor straightened out his meds and got him back on a regular meal and sleep schedule. He was able to coach from the press box for the rest of the season and was on the sidelines for the Texas Bowl with no issues. (Aside from the loss to Syracuse, that is.)

Through it all, Kill eventually came to realize that his worst public moments turned out to be helpful: The ignorant eruptions from fans and the media in the wake of his seizures gave full airing to the kinds of prejudices that can arise from a lack of education and understanding of conditions like his.

And personally, Kill found peace in realizing that he was now leading a team of other people with epilepsy who were tired of being shut in, who finally had someone to champion their cause. "Coach Kill's involvement in the Epilepsy Foundation has meant everything," Kopplin says. "I have to be careful about asking him to do things, because he does everything we ask. He's very generous with his time."

Now Kill is as excited as ever to be coaching his guys. When he climbs into his truck each morning to drive to work, he sees that simple everyday act as a triumph. In Minnesota, people with epilepsy aren't allowed to drive until they've been seizure-free for three months, so for two years Kill had to be driven everywhere he went.

"It's easy to take things for granted," he says. "The freedom of being able to drive, even just a few miles to work, means a lot. But there are no guarantees. I take one day at a time because you don't know what tomorrow may bring. My platform enables me to make a difference in so many people's lives. When my coaching career comes to an end, I don't want to be remembered just as a football coach."

Or just as a guy with epilepsy, either.

Mark Schultz is one of the most decorated wrestlers in U.S. history. So was his brother, Dave Schultz. As Olympians in need of funding for their rigorous training regimens, Mark and Dave connected with a man named John du Pont, a multi-millionaire obsessed with building an elite wrestling team.

Mark was an assistant coach at Villanova when he first became involved with du Pont, who sponsored the university's team with the wealth from his family fortune. After the school dropped the sport, Mark stuck with du Pont as a member of Team Foxcatcher, a club of wrestlers named after du Pont's sprawling estate in Pennsylvania.

It was on that estate that du Pont fatally shot Dave Schultz three times on January 26, 1996. After a 48-hour standoff with police, du Pont was arrested. He was convicted of third-degree murder and died in prison in 2010.

Mark's side of that tragic story is chronicled in his new book, Foxcatcher. A film adaptation, which stars Channing Tatum, Mark Ruffalo and Steve Carell, opens in theaters Friday. In an extended interview with ThePostGame, Mark discussed his unsettling relationship with du Pont, his reflections on his brother's murder 18 years later, and du Pont's grizzly secret Mark kept in confidence -- until now.

"A lot of people don't know this about du Pont, but he was actually a eunuch," Schultz says. "I think it explains a lot about his personality. He had to take artificial testosterone supplements. He was thrown onto a fence by a horse and hurt his testicles, and then they got infected and he lost them.

"When he told me that, I genuinely felt pity for him. I haven't told many people that. He told me that in confidence. But he's dead now, so I guess it's OK."

Schultz estimates that du Pont was in his early 30s when that happened.

TPG: Did he have any romantic relationships?
SCHULTZ: Not at all. He didn't have any romance in his life. There was one girl who used to hang around. She was an Asian woman, and I think she looked at du Pont as a kind of sugar daddy who was going to help her get into acting. She was the only person I ever saw around du Pont.

[Before that] he was married to a woman for about eight months. A nurse. It was a real abuse relationship: He told me he pushed her into a fireplace once. But I think he was in love with Valentin Jordanov, the wrestler who ended up inheriting most of his estate. Dave was killed on Valentin's birthday.

TPG: What do you think attracted him to Valentin?
SCHULTZ. Lots of things. Dave was the only one who could speak to Valentin in Russian. Dave showed up to a party one time in a Bulgarian soldier's uniform, [Note: Jordanov is a Bulgarian native] and du Pont started yelling at him and telling him to take it off, saying that it was an insult, that only a Bulgarian could wear the uniform.

Du Pont would say that his mom had sex with a Bulgarian, that he was part-Bulgarian. He wanted so badly to identify with Bulgarians, maybe because of Valentin. Valentin was the only one who could stand being around him! I told him when he joined Team Foxcatcher that if he wants to stick around and make money, never learn English. If he knew English, du Pont would talk his ear off, because he did that to all of us, and it was unbearable.

Sure enough, Valentin never spoke English, and he was the only one who could stand being around him. I think du Pont became infatuated with him.

Valentin doesn't celebrate his birthday anymore, after what happened on that day.


Team Foxcatcher wasn't just a millionaire's hobby -- although du Pont did treat it as such. It was also the most successful team in American wrestling history. This made associations with du Pont harder for Mark and Dave to resist.

"He wasn't really a philanthropist, he would only give to get," Schultz says. "He didn't give for charity, he would give for what he wanted, which was a name of recognition. I don't know if this was true, that he got a doctorate degree in something. I never knew about that."

Du Pont received a doctorate in natural science from Villanova.

"I knew he was into biology science and I have respect for biology scientists," Schultz says. "We actually shared an interest in science."

But the two brothers did not control their wrestling fates. Money had given du Pont rare power in the wrestling world -- his riches were unprecedented, and he was willing to spend at any cost if it served his interests of vanity and notoriety.

Du Pont's eccentricities and downward spiral were well documented in news reports and subsequent books chronicling the madness at Foxcatcher Farms. But Mark Schultz's memoir is the first time that the full story is being told from his own perspective.

TPG: Foxcatcher is your own personal account of how your brother, Dave, was eventually murdered by John du Pont. It isn't the first book to chronicle this story. Why did you feel your perspective needed to be told?
SCHULTZ: None of the other books were any good. I read them. I'm speaking in the first person. This is my story. I'm not saying what other people said, I'm telling you what happened. From my perspective. I'm not, like, a reporter who's researching other people. I'm the guy that it happened to.

TPG: The first time you met du Pont, you were skeptical of him. You wound up working for him anyway. What did du Pont want? Where did this drive to run a wrestling program come from?
SCHULTZ: There were many, many motivations. I can give you several. That probably wouldn't cover all of them.

Number one, I think when he became involved in wrestling through me, he realized what the wrestling community was all about. It was kind of like a family. I think that was what he had always been missing in his life. He was a desperately lonely, sad person. He wanted to be included and respected by a group of people that were the most highly respected people on earth. Unfortunately, you can't buy your way into that, you have to earn it.

Wrestling is also a sport of close physical contact. When you wrestle, it's with the intention to cause physical pain. He had no physical contact in his life, and I think he looked to wrestling as a form of contact. He was taking the sport and perverting it, in a way, which I really resented. I think he wanted the greatest, toughest guys on earth to say good things about him, to project an image. He wanted us to say great stuff about him, to use us to promote himself. He commissioned documentaries about that stuff.

But he would take the birthday cards he made us write to him, [where we] said he was the greatest and we loved him, and he would use that stuff against you in court if you turned on him. I never saw that coming.

TPG: When du Pont first became involved with amateur wrestling, you had a sense that a multi-millionaire's interest in wrestling would be a boon for the sport. Now, of course, you know better. How did you convince yourself to keep working for du Pont even when you started to realize he wasn't stable?
SCHULTZ: We were desperate. USA Wrestling did not support us, and I had gotten fired from my job at Stanford. In fact, the year I became the best wrestler in the world, the exact day I got back from the world championships, I got fired that day. I was told it was because they couldn't afford me. They could, but they took my money and gave it to my brother [who was also coaching at Stanford].

Stability is the number one thing you need to be successful in anything. I constantly had the rug pulled out from under me. I think people were jealous of me. I think people saw me as this guy who could conquer the world.

I was fired twice. Du Pont fired me once, too. I was fired from Villanova and I never went back. I never cared. All I cared about were the Olympics, and I needed a stable training environment.

Du Pont gave me that environment at Foxcatcher. But he was always threatening to de-stabilize my training environment. I didn't have options. Title IX had wiped out wrestling programs across the country; coaches were clinging to jobs with their fingernails.

Du Pont knew I needed stability, but he wanted something in return. If you want to win, you have to associate with winners -- he knew that, to improve yourself as an athlete and as a person, you do it by associating with winners. The problem is, the people he was associating with are negatively impacted by his association, because he's a loser.


In the immediate aftermath of Dave Schultz's murder, many people involved tried to make sense of what happened. Mark reports in his book that if police hadn't called him and told him to stay away, he would have driven to Foxcatcher Farms and murdered du Pont himself.

In the ensuing court case, a motive for Dave's murder could not be established. Du Pont's defense argued that he was insane, but du Pont was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and it was successfully argued that he was not aware of his actions at the time he shot Dave.

TPG: I'm sure you never anticipated that even at his most extreme, du Pont would do something so drastic as commit murder.
SCHULTZ: I think if he didn't have the wealth that he had, I would have been more worried. But because he was so rich, I thought it was OK. I didn't think he was insane. But he was taking a lot of cocaine, a lot of alcohol, and I think he was a clinically paranoid schizophrenic. I think drug use was a lot of what caused some of his problems.

He did a lot of alcohol and cocaine ... but he was the only guy in the country who was willing to pay for us [wrestlers] to compete. The problem was, he had all of these conditions attached. My ideal situation was, I write Team Foxcatcher down as my team at competitions, and he would pay me. I didn't want to be around him, talk to him, be mentored by him, have him as a father figure, nothing. I just needed money. I needed to survive. I was trying to beat these Russian wrestlers that were being taken care of and paid.

U.S. amateur wrestlers were in poverty, and du Pont saw an opportunity. It was a perfect storm: These guys are poor destitute, they need financing. USA Wrestling wasn't helping us, so du Pont did.

And du Pont just dominated wrestling in this country. His teams won the national championships every single year they competed. Nobody could compete with a guy who was paying everyone to be on his team.

The problem was you had to lie for him.

TPG: How so?
SCHULTZ: Du Pont was so weak, he couldn't defend himself against anybody. That's why he carried a gun around. It was like Richie Rich, all grown up and hooked on drugs. That is exactly what Du Pont was like.

At one point I actually thought he cared about me, but it was a weird feeling, like there might have been something sexual to it.

TPG: What do you mean?
SCHULTZ: I told him this story one time about my very first match at Oklahoma. It was against Don Shuler. I was beating him 4-0, and this was the only match I never won at home. He reversed my hand, and he had my hand pinned down against his groin. His testicles were in my hand, so I just squeezed my hand and he popped off like a champagne cork. I only gave up two points instead of four and I tied him.

When I told Du Pont that story, his eyes lit up, like "Oh, you mean it's acceptable to grab someone's balls?" No, it's not. It's a one-time thing that happened. And then he invented this move called the 'Foxcatcher Five.' I almost named my book after this. Basically, it was just him grabbing someone's balls. One time, he came up to me and was like "Here comes the Foxcatcher Five" and I looked at him like, "You touch me and you're dead."


A film bearing the same name as the memoir opened in theaters Friday. The movie's narrative is based heavily on Schultz's memoir. Schultz was present for the movie's production and was available as a resource, particularly for Channing Tatum, who plays Mark in the movie, and for Mark Ruffalo, who portrays Dave.

TPG: What was it like being on set for the film adaptation?
SCHULTZ: When we were filming, it was not fun. The set was real quiet. It was dark. Channing Tatum's wife [Jenna Dewan] came on the set and was supposed to stay for a week. [Note: Tatum portrays Mark in the movie adaptation.] She only stayed three days. It was that unpleasant.

Mark Ruffalo [who plays Dave in the film] had never been involved in anything like this. Steve Carell, he was so different, so uncomfortable to be around, the way he looked like du Pont, and he wasn't talking very much, he wasn't pleasant. Ruffalo and Steve were in an elevator one time, and in that brief moment Steve asked Mark, "Do you think this [movie] is going to work?" and Mark said, "Honestly, I don't know."

Everything felt so real. It was very quiet, very intense. Mark and Channing went into wrestling training for seven months prior, and they got the hell beat out of them. Channing busted his head open on a mirror, busted his eardrum when Mark slapped him.

I honestly think it's going to go down as a great film. It's going to go down in history. These guys were so intense and so good. Mark Ruffalo in particular. It's hard for me to judge myself and Channing, but I knew Dave better than anyone, and I just can't imagine anyone duplicating Dave -- the way he talked, the way he moved -- the way Mark did. Mark Ruffalo was just amazing. Steve Carell had the most startling transformation.

TPG: Are you happy with how it portrays your story?
SCHULTZ: I've seen the movie three times and I've cried every time. You can't fit my entire life, even a section of my life, into two hours. You have to compress time. But in my opinion it's one of the greatest movies ever made.

Christmas has come early for the Dallas Cowboys offensive line.

Ten games into the NFL season, the group has already received a heaping of enviable gifts: iMac computers from running back DeMarco Murray, Louis Vuitton bags from quarterback Tony Romo and now, retro Air Jordans from wide receiver Dez Bryant.

The 26-year-old Pro Bowler, who is tied for fourth in the NFL with eight touchdown receptions, presented the Cowboys' blockers with their own pairs of Air Jordan 14 Retro sneakers, sized 13.5 to 17.

"They been ballin’, man," Bryant told reporters. "I feel like I stay swagged up, so they deserve to be swagged up, too. There you go. That’s what it’s about."

The Cowboys' offensive line is a big reason for the team's offensive upgrade. One year after the team finished 24th in the NFL with an average of 94 rushing yards per game, that number has jumped to an average of 153.2 through 10 games. Only the Seattle Seahawks get more yards on the ground.

And the Cowboys' players aren't the only ones recognizing the big guys up front for their production. On Oct. 12 left tackle Tyron Smith became the first offensive lineman in a decade to win an Offensive Player of the Week award.

While the price of the shoes is unclear, on Nike's website a similar model is being sold for $170. That would mean the total value of the five pairs is $850. Add that to the roughly $22,500 in gifts from Romo and Murray, and the Cowboys' offensive line has had more than $23,000 spent on it this year.

Bryant has an endorsement deal with the Jordan Brand, so he likely didn't have to pay for the kicks.

Bryant's gifts this week were overshadowed by his ongoing contract negotiations with the Cowboys. He can become a free agent after this year, and while most believe he'll stay in Dallas, he and the team haven't been able to come to terms yet.

"You know, it’s not about the money," Bryant said, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "It's not about none of that. I just feel like a little respect should play a factor in that. I love it [here]. I really do. But every day you grow. Let’s see what happens. It's all about respect. It’s all about respect. I am a very loyal person, but just don’t test my loyalty."

Bryant reportedly wants a deal that includes $13 million per year and $30 million in guaranteed money. So far the best offer from the Cowboys has been 10 years, $114 million and $20 million guaranteed.

The timing of Ben Garland's first appearance for the Denver Broncos was so perfect it would be easy to think it had been planned.

Garland, a backup offensive lineman and special teams blocker, graduated from Air Force in 2010 and is an active member of the Colorado Air National Guard. After two years of service he spent the past two seasons on the Broncos' practice squad before making the 53-man roster this year. Garland was inactive for the team's first eight games but was called up Sunday, where he made his first professional appearance in the team's win over the Oakland Raiders.

It also happened to be the NFL's Salute to Service Day in advance of Veterans Day, which made for a nice coincidence.

Making the appearance all the more special for Garland is the fact that he's a Colorado native and grew up rooting for the Broncos.

"That was awesome," Garland said after the Broncos' 41-17 thrashing of the Raiders. "That my first game came on service day, that meant a little more to me."

After starring as a defensive lineman at Air Force, Garland spent two years in active service: The first as an instructor at the Air Force Academy and the second as a public affairs officer for the 375th Air Mobility Wing at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois.

In making his way back to the NFL, Garland had to prove he had stayed in shape after two years away from the sport. Then he had to prove himself again when he was asked to switch from defensive line to offensive line.

"Ben is just a guy that's got that determination like no other and when he moved over from the defensive line to the offensive line, he's very bright, he's tough, and just worked his tail off to earn a spot on the team," Denver vice president of football operations John Elway said before the season. "So he's just going to continue to get better and better too because he hasn't been over there ... ."

With Will Montgomery, normally the team's backup center/guard, called in to starting duty Sunday, Garland took Montgomery's role as backup and on special teams. Garland even had a special sticker on his helmet representing the Air Force:

Proud to represent the Air Force on the back of my helmet. #SalutetoService #AirForce

A photo posted by Ben Garland (@garlandben63) on

Garland said he questioned whether he would be able to play in the NFL following his two-year service, but his dreams overcame doubt.

"You always have those tough days, especially those days having my alarm clock go off at 4 in the morning for my workout before work and then go to my workout after work," Garland told ESPN. "You're thinking I have a great career here in the Air Force. It's tough for people to become an officer, not a lot of people get this opportunity. Why would you give that up for this small, small chance that you could ever make it in the NFL? Being an officer or this tiny, slim chance of the NFL? But once you decide to go for your dreams you have to go after them."

On November 17, 2006, Bo Schembechler passed away. He was 77.

For Michigan fans, the bad news hasn't stopped.

Second-ranked Michigan lost the next day's game to top-ranked Ohio State, 42-39, missing a shot at another national title. Then the Wolverines lost the next three straight, including the historic upset at the hands of Appalachian State. Coach Lloyd Carr's last season was followed by Rich Rodriguez's troubled three-year run, and then almost four years of Brady Hoke. After Hoke's honeymoon season in 2011, when the Wolverines beat the Buckeyes and won the Sugar Bowl en route to an 11-2 record, the program has been sliding steadily downhill.

Since the day Bo died, mighty Michigan has gone 55-46, and 24-31 in the Big Ten -- not the kind of numbers that made Michigan the sport's winningest program, let alone king of the Big Ten.

On Halloween, new President Mark Schlissel announced he had accepted athletic director Dave Brandon's resignation, ending his short but tumultuous tenure. Brandon stumbled for a number of reasons, but the current team's 3-5 record before he stepped down surely didn't help.

So, what now? On the same day Brandon resigned, Schlissel named Jim Hackett the interim AD. Like Brandon, Hackett was a back-up for Bo in the seventies, earned a few Big Ten title rings, and became a Fortune 500 CEO, leading Steelcase to the top of the office furniture industry. But Hackett's teammates, colleagues, and employees will tell you he's no carbon copy of Brandon.

Fourteen years ago, I met both of them for the first time, while researching a book on their old coach. Brandon told me the story of getting kicked off the team -- something that happened to a lot of Bo's players -- then begging Bo the next day to get back on. The lesson was simple: Don't take your good fortune for granted.

Hackett told me about going to see Bo after a sleepless night. He had been on the team for almost three seasons, didn't complain when they moved him from linebacker to center, and never took a single play off in practice. But Hackett started to wonder if his contributions on the third-string demo team really mattered.

This is where Bo took over the story. Bo told me "you can not be a leader unless you like people! If you don't listen to what your people have to say, they have no reason to respect you, and won't follow you."

He added that, even if you're doing everything else right, "if one of your people comes to you with a personal problem, and it just goes in one ear and out the other, you will fail!"

To illustrate his point, Bo told me his version of Hackett's story. When Hackett came down to see him, on a Tuesday morning in 1975, he spilled his guts. When Bo was sure Hackett was done, he looked him straight in the eye and said, "Jimmy, I know how you feel." Because Bo did, going back to his playing days at Miami, Ohio.

Bo told Hackett exactly why he wasn't starting: He was simply not big enough, or fast enough to beat the incredible depth they had at center that year, loaded with current and future All-Americans. But Bo also told Hackett knew how hard he was working, and that he never missed a practice. "And because you never take a play off," Bo added, "the guy you go against every day, who sees you more than the rest of the Big Ten combined, is a first-rate nose guard, and that's another reason why we're undefeated!

"I can't tell you what to do, Jimmy. But don't think for a second that what you've done hasn't been noted, and respected."

Needless to say, Hackett never again had to wonder why he was playing for that man, for that program, and that university.

Years later, when Hackett became Steelcase's CEO, he instituted the same open door policy. He explained to Bo that it wasn't just the right thing to do, it's how he learned what was really going on in his company: by talking to people all over the organization, every day. And that was one big reason, he said, Steelcase fought through tough international competition, and a rough economy, to get to the top of the industry.

It's a crucial lesson: If you're going to lead, first you have to listen -- to the people who play the games, and the people who pay for them. In fact, President Schlissel himself traveled to Michigan alumni clubs around the nation last week, armed with smart questions, and the will to listen to the answers.

This still leaves plenty of questions unanswered, of course. Schlissel and Hackett will first have to decide how long Hackett intends to serve as interim athletic director. Will he become the permanent athletic director, or will he name a replacement -- and if so, whom? Brad Bates at Boston College and Warde Manuel at Connecticut both played for Bo, too, and have worked in athletic departments their entire careers. But right now, it could be almost anyone.

Or will Hackett hire a new head coach first? Yes, Michigan is 5-5 right now, and still has a fighting chance to get to another bowl game, but the Wolverines' 10-9 win over struggling Northwestern might go down as the weakest win in recent history. The Wolverines converted just one of 12 third downs, and committed three turnovers -- more than Michigan State and Ohio State combined, on the same night. Perhaps most embarrassing, both Michigan State and Ohio State doubled Michigan's 256 yards of total offense -- just one indication of how far Michigan now trails its arch-rivals.

Brady Hoke is an unusually likeable guy, and his players haven't given up on him, but his teams have gotten worse every season. The dirty secret among a growing mass of Michigan fans is their private hope that their favorite team fails to make a bowl game, forcing Schlissel and Hackett to find a new coach, and affording them the time to do so, without distraction.

If the program goes in that direction, as expected, the all-too familiar specter of yet another coaching search looms ahead, with a familiar name topping the list: Jim Harbaugh, Michigan's prodigal son, who served as the team's ball boy when his dad coached for Bo.

Even after making these big decisions, whoever's running the department six months from now will have a lot of work to do mending fences with fans, selling season tickets and skyboxes, and bringing in enough money to meet payroll for a greatly expanded staff.

Right now, just about everything is up in the air. If anyone tells you they know what's going to happen next, and they're not Jim Hackett, don't believe them. No one knows anything.

But, one way or the other, the big decisions will be settled in the next few months. How those shake out will likely determine what the next decade of Michigan football looks like -- and if the Wolverines will reclaim their place among the big boys, or continue riding with the also-rans.

But when you're trying to rebuild an empire that thousands of people helped create, listening to them is not just a good place to start. It's the best place.

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