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Former Owl inspires NFL Ravens

By Gabe Cuadra     2/7/13 6:00pm

When President Barack Obama called to congratulate the Baltimore Ravens and Head Coach John Harbaugh on their Super Bowl victory, he made a special point to mention how inspired he and the first lady were by a story on Rice alumnus O.J. Brigance.

Brigance, who is currently the Ravens' director of player development, was a standout linebacker and three-year starter for the Owls from 1987 to 1991, twice being named to the All-Southwest Conference team.

After going undrafted in 1991, Brigance played in the Canadian Football League before eventually making the NFL roster of the Miami Dolphins in 1996. In 2000, Brigance joined the Baltimore Ravens and became the team's special-teams captain. When the Ravens reached Super Bowl XXXV that season, it was Brigance who recorded the game's first tackle in what would be a winning effort.

In 2007, Brigance was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease. The debilitating and eventually fatal motor neuron disease robbed Brigance of his ability to use his arms, to walk and, eventually, to talk. Yet using a motorized wheelchair and communication technology, Brigance has continued in his front-office role with the Ravens, making the most of the abilities and the time he has left to continue having an impact on those around him.

For more on Brigance, see the video "Heart of the Ravens" on ESPN.com or search "Brigance" at riceowls.com.

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