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Continued: Cancer survivor Udeze makes a new impact during Vikings camp

  • Article by: MARK CRAIG , Star Tribune
  • Last update: August 15, 2013 - 5:49 AM

Udeze is young enough that he could be on that flight as a player. He is also in good shape and appears to be a little lighter than his playing weight of 281.

But Udeze’s playing days ended in the summer of 2009, when he tried to make a comeback after a year off. His coaching fellowship also ends Thursday, so he will be saying goodbye again.

“I’d love to end up back here coaching one day, but even if it doesn’t happen, everything that I learned here, I got that forever because I’m always taking notes,” said Udeze, who spent three years as the strength coach at the University of Washington and last season helping coach the Seattle Seahawks defensive line.

“Plus, I got to see all the guys I used to play for, the coaches. I even got to see Matt Cassel, my former [Southern California] teammate and one of my best friends. When I was lying in the hospital and crying after I got diagnosed, Matt called me and asked me if there was anything he could do. Anything.”

Udeze had one request.

“I was in California at the time,” Cassel said. “And he said all he wanted was to eat some Slippery Shrimp from Yang Chow’s, our favorite place in L.A.”

“The next morning, I got a cooler with dry ice in it,” Udeze said. “I was eating Slippery Shrimp that morning.”

Udeze said there was a time when he cried every day for months because football had been taken from him. Not anymore.

“Of course, I wish I was breaking camp and going to Buffalo to play a preseason game,” Udeze said. “But my path was different. That’s OK. I like the path that I’m on. I want to have an impact on people’s lives.”

People like Cole Halbakken.



 

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