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Former NFL Player Tackles Life with ALS

O.J. Brigance is one of the most influential members of the Baltimore Ravens organization, even though he can't walk, talk or breathe on his own. Read Transcript


Reporter: THIS IS O.J.

BERGANZ.

HE CAN'T WALK, TALK, OR

BREATHE ON HIS OWN, AND YET

AS THE BALTIMORE RAVENS'

SENIOR ADVISOR TO PLAYER

DEVELOPMENT, HE IS ONE OF

THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE

IN THE RAVENS'

ORGANIZATION.

O.J. IS MY LIVING

GUARDIAN ANGEL.

THAT'S AS SIMPLE AS I CAN

PUT IT, MAN.

HE IS SENT FROM GOD.

ANYBODY IN HIS SITUATION

PROBABLY WOULD HAVE GAVE UP

A LONG TIME AGO.

GOD IS KEEPING HIM HERE TO

NOT ONLY SPREAD HIS MESSAGE,

BUT TO LET O.J. GIVE HIS AS

WELL.

Reporter: IN 2007, O.J.

WAS DIAGNOSED WITH A.L.S.,

COMMONLY KNOWN AS LOU

GEHRIG'S DISEASE.

IT DESTROYS THE NEURONS IN

THE BRAIN THAT CONTROL MOTOR

FUNCTION.

BUT THAT NEVER STOPPED O.J.

O.J. INSPIRED THE TEAM LAST

SEASON DURING THEIR SUPER

BOWL RUN.

O.J.'s MESSAGES ARE

ALWAYS ON POINT.

ON POINT MEANING, WHATEVER

HE SAID WAS RIGHT THERE IN

THE MOMENT AND RIGHT ON

TIME.

SOME OF THE MESSAGES ALONG

THE WAY, ESPECIALLY DURING

OUR SUPER BOWL RUN,

WAS, LIKE, UM, KEEP FAITH.

PLAY FOR EACH OTHER.

DO THE THINGS A TEAM WOULD

DO.

THAT'S WHEN I THINK THE

TEAM KIND OF REALIZED WE

CAN'T TAKE THIS FOR GRANTED

ANYMORE.

Reporter: BEFORE

A.L.S., O.J. WAS A WARRIOR

ON THE GRID IRON FOR 13

YEARS.

BY COMMUNICATING THROUGH HIS

COMPUTER, HE SPOKE ABOUT HIS

FASCINATION WITH THE GAME.

I LEARNED TO LOVE THE

GAME OF FOOTBALL AT A YOUNG

AGE.

AND I WAS THRILLED WHEN I

GOT THE CHANCE TO PLAY IN

LITTLE LEAGUE.

THE SPORT GAVE ME GREAT

CONFIDENCE AND DISCIPLINE.

BESIDES THAT, WITH A NAME

LIKE O.J., IT WAS PROBABLY

FATE THAT I WOULD PLAY THE

GAME.

Reporter: O.J.'s

PARENTS RAISED HIM WITH

STRONG CHRISTIAN VALUES, BUT

HE DIDN'T FULLY ACCEPT

CHRIST FOR HIMSELF UNTIL HIS

SECOND YEAR AT UNIVERSITY.

THE BAPTIST CHURCH

CORNERED ME ONE DAY AFTER

SERVICES, AND SHE ASKED ME

TO COMMIT MY LIFE IN CHRIST,

AND I DID SO THAT DAY.

Reporter: AFTER

SPENDING FOUR YEARS AT RICE,

HIS DREAM OF PLAYING PRO

FOOTBALL WAS SHATTERED.

YOU'RE WATCHING THE NFL

DRAFT, AND YOUR NAME WAS NOT

CALLED.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS?

I WAS DISAPPOINTED WHEN I

DIDN'T GET DRAFTED.

DEEP DOWN I KNEW I COULD

PLAY PROFESSIONALLY.

I JUST NEEDED THE

OPPORTUNITY.

Reporter: BUT THE

CANADIAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE

SHOWED AN INTEREST.

O.J. WOULD SPEND THE NEXT

FIVE YEARS IN THE CFL

HELPING TO MAKE A NAME FOR

HIMSELF.

THE NFL SCOUTS STARTED TO

TAKE NOTICE, BUT STILL NO

NOTICE.

AND THEN SHANA SUGGESTED HE

CALL THE TEAMS HIMSELF.

Reporter: WHAT PROMPTED

YOU TO TELL HIM THAT?

THE HOLY SPIRIT.

THAT'S THE ONLY PLACE THAT

IT COULD HAVE COME FROM

BECAUSE WHEN I BEGAN TO

UNDERSTAND THAT THIS IS WHAT

HE NEEDED TO DO, TO SHARE

THIS WITH HIM AND TELL HIM,

AND ENCOURAGE HIM TO GO

AHEAD, THIS WAS HIS TIME.

Reporter: WELL, SHE WAS

RIGHT.

O.J. STARTED CALLING TEAMS

AND FINALLY SIGNED WITH THE

MIAMI DOLPHINS.

AFTER FOUR SEASONS, O.J.

LANDED WITH THE BALTIMORE

RAVENS, WHERE HE HELPED THE

TEAM WIN SUPER BOWL 35, A

FEAT THAT MADE HIM THE ONLY

PLAYER TO WIN A SUPER BOWL

AND THE GREY CUP FOR THE

SAME CITY.

AND AFTER A STINT WITH THE

NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS, HE

RETIRED.

AND FIVE YEARS LATER, HE

RECEIVED NEWS HE HAD A.L.S.

Reporter: WERE YOU

ANGRY?

I WASN'T ANGRY BECAUSE I

DIDN'T FULLY GRASP THE

WEIGHT OF EVERYTHING.

BUT WHEN I DID, I BROKE DOWN

AND CRIED.

AFTER I DRIED MY TEARS, I

RECEIVED A REVELATION THAT

GOD WAS STILL HERE AND HAD

US IN HIS HANDS.

Reporter: WHAT HAS YOUR

FAITH IN THE LORD MEANT TO

YOU THROUGHOUT THIS

JOURNEY?

OUR FAITH IN JESUS CHRIST

HAS ALLOWED US TO ACHIEVE A

HIGHER PROSPECTIVE OF OUR

CIRCUMSTANCES.

PROVERBS 20: 14, SAYS IN THE

STRENGTH OF ADVERSITY, YOUR

STRENGTHEN IS SMALL.

TO STAND IN ADVERSITY, LIFE

HAS PREPARED US FOR THIS

MOMENT.

AND IF IT WEREN'T SO, GOD

WOULD NEVER HAVE ALLOWED IT

TO HAPPEN.

Reporter: O.J. IS STILL

A WARRIOR WITH THE HEART OF

A LION.

EVEN THOUGH HE CAN'T TALK,

HE STILL HAS A VOICE,

THROUGH SPEECHES, WORKING

WITH HIS FOUNDATION, AND

WRITING.

HE EVEN OFFERED A BOOK

ENTITLED "STRENGTH OF A

CHAMPION."

SO AS LONG AS HIS HEART

BEATS, O.J. WILL CONTINUE TO

INSPIRE HIS TEAM AND

EVERYONE AROUND HIM.

O.J. BERGANZ IS THE

ULTIMATE INSPIRATION.

IT IS SO INSPIRING TO SEE

WHERE HE WAS, AND THE HAND

THAT HE'D BEEN DEALT, AND

JUST HOW HE PERSEVERES.

IT SHOWS THE FAVOR THAT

GOD HAS ON O.J., BUT O.J.

SHOWS THE FAVOR BACK BY

PRAISING HIM IN ALL OF HIS

MESSAGES.

I'M SURE O.J. WILL TELL YOU,

IF YOU GO TO THE BIBLE, YOU

GO TO THE VERSE "I CAN DO

ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST'S

STRENGTH," O.J. IS REALLY

LIVING THAT.

HE IS REALLY LIVING IT.

HE SAYS THAT I AM

STRENGTH FOR HIM.

HE IS STRENGTH FOR ME.

BECAUSE I STILL DEPEND ON

HIM.

I STILL NEED HIM.

HE HAS TAUGHT ME SO MUCH.

YOU KNOW, WE HAVE REALLY

CONNECTED SPIRITUALLY,

EMOTIONALLY, YOU KNOW?

AND THAT IS WHAT KEEPS US

STRONG.

THIS IS A VOYAGE OF

THREE, NOT JUST TWO.

AND AS LONG AS WE HAVE GOD

IN THE CENTER, EVERYTHING

AROUND US WILL COME

TOGETHER.

Reporter: PEOPLE WITH

A.L.S. ARE GENERALLY GIVEN

THREE TO FIVE YEARS TO LIVE,

AND O.J. IS IN YEAR SIX, AND

THE BATTLE CONTINUES.

GOD HAS ONLY GIVEN US A

FINITE AMOUNT OF TIME TO

COMPLETE OUR ASSIGNMENT.

AND THERE WILL ALWAYS BE

STUMBLING BLOCKS.

YOU NEED TO RECOGNIZE THOSE

STUMBLING BLOCKS AS

OPPORTUNITY FOR GROWTH AND

ADVANCEMENT, NOT AS A

HINDRANCE.

I TRUST IN GOD, ANDMAKE THE

MOST OF WHAT HE IN TRUSTED

IN ME.

MY LIFE HAS BEEN A

TESTIMONIAL THAT WITH GOD,

ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.

THERE ARE STILL MORE TO BE

DONE WITH ME, BUT I'M STILL

IN THE PROCESS.

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