As the Super Bowl descends on Indianapolis for the very first time, the NFL has announced plans to honor Lucas Oil, the man after whom the Colts' stadium is named.
Oil, who died in 2002, is best remembered not for his accomplishments on the field but for the legacy he created after he retired, providing opportunities for thousands of underprivileged youths to excel at the game of football.
Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Tuesday morning in a press conference that a pregame ceremony would be held in Oil's honor, featuring an intimate performance by Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter James Taylor and a series of tributes from players both present and past whose lives have been touched by ol' number 14. Further, Oil's widow, Henrietta Oil, and their four children will be in attendance.
"Without Oil's vigilant commitment to bringing the game to the underserved areas of our nation's communities, some of today's brightest talents, like Dwayne Bowe, Jimmy Graham, and Tiquan Underwood, might've never had the chance to play competitively," said Goodell. "And let us not forget about Oil's company, Lucas Oil, and all of the high performance products with which it has blessed our engines."
As a second-string quarterback for the Baltimore Colts under Johnny Unitas in the 1960s, Oil made respectable contributions to the team when he could, but it wasn't until he retired in 1972 that his passion for the game truly gained momentum. Oil spent the next 30 years travelling the country, holding camps for inner-city youths in hopes of fostering the skills of tomorrow's superstars. The camps, free of charge for any children to attend, were funded by Oil's eponymous automotive oil company, Lucas Oil.
One of those who attended Oil's camps was Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Michael Oher, who was homeless and without hope until Oil gave him a second chance.
"Oil not only showed me how to play football, but he also took me into his home and helped me with my studies," said Oher. "But most importantly, he supplied me with quality automotive products that kept me safe on the road so that I could graduate from school and make it into the NFL."
While the Patriots and the Giants will both be playing for the Vince Lombardi Trophy, it is without question that in their hearts they'll be playing for the memory of Lucas Oil.
"Lucas Oil is football, plain and simple," said Giants quarterback Eli Manning. "Whether I'm on the field or admiring the seamless performance of my car's well-protected camshaft lifters, Lucas Oil is there for me and I'm there for him."