When you get discouraged, what specific memories, on and off the field, do you recall, to help you bounce back?
No doubt, ALS has brought clarity and greater purpose to our lives. We are all given a platform and audience to influence, no matter what walk of life we come from. We are seasoned by our adversities to help others experiencing the same difficulties.
How would you describe to the rest of us what it has been like to live these last few years?
I would describe living the last few years as challenging, yet insightful. My wife and I have seen great acts of kindness and disappointments. However. I am most proud that we haven't given up on God, or each other. We have used our trials to try and encourage others.
Do you ever compare life as it is now, to how it might have been?
I do believe that God will help me win this battle, and that I will be made whole. I am winning every day my feet touch the ground. We all need to appreciate the small victories in life, starting with the ability to open our eyes in the morning. It isn't a matter of who is right, but who will I believe. In Proverbs, it says, "So as a man thinks, so is he." In the end, whatever opinion we accept as truth for our lives will become our reality.
You say that, with God's help, you'll beat this disease. Many respect your defiance but say you're in denial. Who is right?
Through life experiences I have learned God is right, and man's finite expectations have no bearing on my healing. I would just classify them as limited.
In 1996, you phoned 28 of the 30 NFL teams before you finally got a tryout with Miami. Is that the kind of last-second, Hail-Mary-pass thinking that you believe is going to cure you now?
The great lesson behind that story is that "no" this time doesn't mean "no" the next time. I called 28 of the 30 teams and received 28 nos. The two teams I didn't call were the Houston Oilers and Miami Dolphins, because they had worked me out, coming out of college. I decided I might as well call the last two teams. and make my rejections a full 30. To my amazement both wanted to sign me. "No" sometimes means "not yet." My hope doesn't rely on the wisdom of man but on the providence of the most high God. My faith is not to "Hail Mary" but to "Hail Jesus."
What does O.J. Brigance want his legacy to be?
I pray my legacy is that I trusted God and made the most of what he entrusted to me. There is still more to be done in me but I thank Jesus I am still in the process.
We know that ALS affects the body and not the mind. Do you often feel trapped inside your head?
I do miss the ability to run and work out. Sometimes I would love to get up and go for a walk, but it isn't possible at this time. I do, at times, feel isolated.
Do you ever dream that you are your old self?
I do dream and see myself walking again, and with all of my senses.
When is the last time that you laughed, and cried?
I actually have good laughs daily. Without the ability to speak, I have become a bit more observant. People are funny about how they approach life.
I have cried twice. Back when I was diagnosed, the weight of the diagnosis and possible outcome was hard to accept. The second time was a few months ago, when it was just one of those tough days.