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Andrew’s Jacksonville Jaguar Dream
STORY COURTESY OF THE FLORIDA TIMES UNION – DAN SCANLAN – FRIDAY, AUGUST 4
Andrew Motley II loves football. But living with cerebral palsy and pulmonary disease has meant his dreams of hitting the gridiron have been limited — until Thursday.
That’s when the Jacksonville Jaguars signed him to a special contract, and after a tour of EverBank Field the 15-year-old Sandalwood High School student joined the action with the NFL in practice.
After donning a Jaguars No. 48 jersey with his name on the back and watching from the sidelines in the sweltering heat, Andrew ran onto the field leaving his walker behind. Going right into the middle of the scrum of Jaguars players next to head coach Gus Bradley, he led them in a chant of “1-2-3 – Lock down the bank!” before a high-five with everybody.
“Awesome!” the 15-year-old said. “I feel ecstatic. I loved the signing, getting to meet new people and getting to see how this team is going to work this season.”
His mother, Rhonda Motley, watched it all with a smile and the knowledge that a son born a little over one pound has instead thrived and was an NFL player Thursday.
“He was determined and when the opportunity came along to get his dream, we couldn’t talk him into an Alaskan cruise or somewhere tropical — it was all about the Jaguars,” she said. “I am overjoyed. … I couldn’t ask for more. If God took me today, if He said he wouldn’t do anything else for me, I am satisfied.”
She said doctors told her Andrew wouldn’t make it through the night when he was born. But while his disorder affects coordination between body and muscles and makes it difficult to walk or run, he can now. A pump in his abdomen doses him with a drug for muscle spasms, pain and stiffness. Double knee surgery helped, although a walker is nearby when needed.
As a freshman last year, his love of football saw him join the Sandalwood High School football team, where he is No. 48 playing tight end and running back with two touchdowns to his credit, he said.
“He is an overcomer. He can do anything,” said Sheri Criswell, local Dreams Come True executive director. “That was his big dream, to be a Jaguar and he signed his contract.”
His mother cried as he signed that contract, then Bradley met him and his family after a stadium tour.
“Here he is playing sports, playing football, knows about the team, just an unbelievable spirit to the young man,” Bradley said. “He was so excited. Not only him, but his parents. To see their emotion when he came in to sign the contract is something that they’ll never forget and we’ll never forget.”
To Andrew, he said “it means that other kids like me can have hope to never give up on their dreams.”
Andrew hit the practice field, his gaze never leaving players preparing for the first preseason game with the New York Jets Thursday night.
The NFL Network invited him to watch its live broadcast.
“You look good in that jersey, man! I think that’s a fit,” network co-anchor Rhett Lewis told him. “Congratulations on being a Jag.”
Then came the team huddle, where Bradley called Andrew “a Jaguar for a weekend and a Jaguar for life.” The teen talked with defensive end Dante Fowler and wide receiver Allen Robinson before facing reporters and cameras for a news conference about his day.
It’s been “one heck of a ride!” he said.
Friday it will continue at 5:30 p.m. when he will be part of the team’s annual Florida Blue Family Night scrimmage, joining the wide receivers group as they run the tunnel to the field. He will be announced during the starting lineup.
View pictures from Andrew’s special day at the Jacksonville Jaguars practice, courtesy of the Florida Times Union Photo Gallery
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