McComb’s Brown has the vision to achieve anythingWritten by Ryan Fowler | | firstname.lastname@example.org
First and goal from the one yard line was first and a lifetime for Tyler Brown.
“For as long as I can remember I’ve been a big football fan,” said Tyler, a junior at McComb High School (MHS). “I’ve liked it all my life.”
On most Friday evenings throughout the season, Tyler enjoys the game from the sidelines. He’s been the team manager for McComb football since middle school.
“Normally I’ll get water for coach (Kris) Alge or balls or whatever he needs done,” Tyler said.
Then earlier this year, Kris Alge approached Tyler with a crazy idea.
“Coach Alge said, ‘Hey, I want to get you out there playing a little bit.’ I thought he was joking.”
“I think it was last spring (Tyler) started getting into lifting weights and started getting buff,” Alge said.
The 16-year-old was now standing 6-foot-2 and weighing in at more than 200 pounds, making him one of the biggest kids at MHS.
Tyler made his debut in week three in a game against Van Buren. He traded his normal duties of sideline supervision for cleats, pads and the Panthers No. 2 jersey.
“Our defensive coach said I was going in,” Brown said. “All I could feel was just butterflies.”
Three weeks later, Alge convinced Tyler to suit up again. Early in the game, the team manager, turned running back, had his first crack at a score.
“He got stuffed, two-yard loss,” Alge said with a chuckle.
But opportunity came knocking again later in the game. This time Tyler fumbled the football and Vanlue recovered in the end zone.
“There was a huge hole,” Tyler said. “I would have scored had I not let it slip out of my hands. I thought my opportunity was gone.”
But on this night Tyler was not to be denied.
With McComb crushing Vanlue 40-7 in the fourth quarter and the ball resting on the one, the snap came to Tyler. Two seniors, Clay Lilly and Corey Fry, friends of Tyler since kindergarten, enclosed him in the bear hug of his life and gave him a shove into the end zone.
“They screamed ‘You’re in!’” Tyler said.
First and a lifetime because of what he overcame to fight for that yard.
Tyler is legally blind.
“It was amazing,” Tyler’s mother Bonnie said of the touchdown. “I never thought it would happen and all I could do was cry.”
From the sidelines, Alge was caught up in the emotion of the moment.
“I was just pumped for him,” coach Alge said. “I don’t think Tyler thought it would ever happen.”
Tyler has never let his condition hold him back. His mom tells me doctors are stunned to hear what her son is able to accomplish on a daily basis. Tyler rides four-wheelers and plays video games on his XBox with friends.
“I guess I just kind of got used to it,” Tyler said. “I never really had the opportunity to know what I was missing, until now.”
Three weeks have passed since Tyler’s tumble into pay dirt, but his story is starting to spread like wildfire.
The small village of McComb made national television on Oct. 18 when a satellite truck set up shop outside MHS.
Tyler, surrounded by coach Alge and a few teammates, were interviewed live as part of the “Today” show’s Sunday morning broadcast.
Tyler’s trip to touchdown town goes to show you in the midst of the world seeking out the next big thing, the next pretty face, we could be missing out on the next awe-inspiring moment.
Much like Jason McElwain rewrote the book on autism and athletics, Tyler may shine some light on sight and sport.
“It’s something few people with sight get to experience,” Tyler said. “So for me it was tremendous to have the opportunity.”
“I just think it’s a blessing to have a good group of friends and a coach and a team,” Bonnie said.
“There are plenty of people that are far worse off than I am,” Tyler said. “Put your mind to it and you will be able to achieve what you want to achieve.”
It’s first and goal.
Who’s pushing you?
Ryan Fowler is the weekend sports anchor at NBC24. He can be reached at email@example.com.