CHICAGO -- Former Gophers punter Peter Mortell was in Green Bay, Wis., on Monday, getting ready for training camp with the Packers, grieving the loss of two dear friends.
Mortell used to get together with Michigan State punter Mike Sadler and Nebraska punter Sam Foltz every July. They would gather at the Kohl’s Kicking Camp in Whitewater, Wis., and stay at the house of Wisconsin punter Drew Meyer.
They had met at various kicking camps for about eight years and done this – gathering at Meyer’s place in the summer -- for the past four years.
This year, Mortell decided not to go. He wanted to stay off his feet with his first NFL training camp about to start.
On Sunday, Mortell got a call from Meyer with the terrible news. Sadler and Foltz were killed in a car crash Saturday night on their way back to Meyer’s house.
Sadler was driving the Mercedes sedan, and Foltz was a front seat passenger. Authorities have reportedly cited speed and weather as factors in the crash. LSU kicker Colby Delahoussaye was in the back seat of the car and survived with minor injuries.
“It’s just so, so sad,” Mortell said in a telephone interview. “Mike [Sadler] was on his way to Stanford Law School. Sam was the returning Big Ten Punter of the Year. I guess God had a different plan.”
Mortell’s voice cracked as he spoke.
He was the Big Ten Punter of the Year in 2014, but beyond the awards, he shared something else in common with Sadler and Folks. Their fun-loving personalities and determination to inspire people around them made each of them shining lights for their respective universities.
The tributes for Foltz and Sadler have been pouring in.
“They’re in a better place now,” Mortell said. “I just want them to be celebrated. God used them in so many ways. They impacted so many people. It was an honor and privilege to have them as friends. I’m very fortunate I got to spend the time with them that I did.”
.@Sadler_3 you were more than a great friend to me. You were my role model. Love you brother ����— Peter Mortell (@PMortell1) July 24, 2016