Tragedy felt by Minnesota Athletics

John R. Carter

Practice went on for Minnesota’s football team at the Gibson-Nagurski complex Tuesday afternoon, but things weren’t even close to normal for the Gophers.

Shortly after the tragic events in New York and Washington, D.C. unfolded, coach Glen Mason said phone calls poured into the football offices by players wondering if practice was going to be held.

Mason, whose weekly media luncheon had already been canceled, said he also considered not having practice.

But that’s when Mason, who like most Americans was glued to a television set, heard the words of New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who urged Americans to carry on.

“When things like that happen, what I do for a living becomes very insignificant,” Mason said. “I contemplated canceling practice but when I listened to Giuliani talking on TV, he was right.”

Carry on the Gophers did. But Mason, who grew up in New Jersey, said it was hard to stay focused on the field.

Things were equally as tough for Mason’s players from the New York area.

Five Minnesota players – quarterback Asad Abdul-Khaliq (Elizabeth), defensive tackles Jason Green (Orange) and Darrell Reid (Farmington), and defensive ends Greg White (Newark) and Tony Dupree (Jersey City) – are from New Jersey.

Four of the five went to high schools just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. Dupree said he could see the World Trade Center towers from his house.

Reid, who lives over an hour from New York City, was shaken by the news, especially because he has an aunt who worked in the twin towers.

Fortunately for Reid, his aunt didn’t go to work on Tuesday. But regardless, the news hit hard.

“We had a team meeting,” Reid said. “Coach Mason addressed us and said, ‘It’s going to be tough for us. It’s going to be adversity, but we have to get over it.'”

The Gophers went on Tuesday, but whether or not Saturday night’s game against Baylor at the Metrodome will be played remains to be seen.

Big Ten officials and school athletics directors plan to hold a press conference Wednesday to discuss travel plans for upcoming games in each sport. Mason said he has mixed emotions about taking on the Bears.

“I still remember when the NFL decided to play the Sunday after John F. Kennedy was assassinated,” Mason said. “My first concern is the safety of everybody.”

Like Reid, Abdul-Khaliq also had an aunt who worked in the World Trade Center. She wasn’t at work on Tuesday either.

Abdul-Khaliq expressed concern for those who did lose friends or family members in the disaster, but added that the team, like the rest of the country, will move forward.

“We can’t let this bother us. We have to push forth,” Abdul-Khaliq said. “Life goes on. There isn’t much we can do from out here in Minnesota but send our prayers.”

Added White: “We have to go on. We can’t be scared.”


John R. Carter welcomes comments at [email protected]

Anthony Maggio welcomes comments at [email protected]