When the Crew asked me to choose a book excerpt to preview on TheCrew.com, I wanted to pick something fun. One thing I want people to know about “Kirk Urso: Forever Massive” is that it is not a morosely depressing compendium of collected grief. Nobody would want to read that and nobody would want to participate in its creation. And that includes me. A book about a loved and respected 22-year-old who passed away much too soon to will automatically carry an undercurrent of sadness. There is no need to amplify it by exploiting the grief of those who miss him.
Rather, I wanted to focus on fun and discovery. I knew how beloved Kirk was in the Crew’s locker room, but I wanted to learn more about why, so the bulk of the book is spent talking to the players, coaches, and staff to collect their stories and memories. The middle (and largest) section of the book is filled with the recollections of those who knew Kirk in Columbus. The stories are presented in their own words, offering conversational slices of life. There is a lot of love and laughter in those stories.
So to pick a story for an excerpt, I went with the story of how Kirk won a lot of money in the Super Bowl pool during training camp. It’s an amusing story that shows how Kirk immediately worked himself into the team as a rookie. He was completely undaunted by the veterans on the team, and despite giving him a ton of grief, the veterans couldn’t help but love him for it.
Here’s the story of The Super Duper Super Bowl Square, as told by teammates Danny O’Rourke, William Hesmer, and Cole Grossman, as well as Director of Team Operations Tucker Walther and Head Athletic Trainer Dave Lagow.
The Super Duper Super Bowl Square
We were in preseason in Bradenton and we had a meal together. They wanted the new guys to stand up and tell everyone briefly about themselves. You know, where they went to school, about their family, or anything interesting. Kirk gets up and says who he is, where he went to school, that he has an older brother and a girlfriend. And then for his interesting fact, he says, “I know magic.” I remember thinking that was weird because of Cole and his whole Harry Potter obsession.
We do squares for the Super Bowl. So we’re down in Bradenton. It’s a very hard preseason, and we’re trying to push each other, and we’re getting to know each other, so it’s interesting.
I remember the Super Bowl, where every pays $5 or $10 per square, and then we draw the numbers out of a hat. If you have say, a zero and a three, and the score is 10-3 at the end of a quarter, then you win. We had the board at our place with Will and Chad.
Sure enough, the first quarter goes by, and we’re sitting there watching the clock tick down, and we’re like, “It’s Kirk.”
Of course, Kirk comes in and wins. After the first quarter, he went to the older guys—Danny, Chad, and Will—who held the money, and went to their place, expecting his money right then. The older guys were so…not really mad…but they were like, “Get the hell out of here.” I loved that. I was telling Kirk, “You have to go ask for your money. They’re going to get so mad.”
All of a sudden—I don’t think the whistle had even blown for the end of the first quarter—our door swings open and Kirk comes in. I guess some guys had tricked him and told him that he had to be there when the whistle blew or the money would be gone by the time you get there. So he comes in to collect his money.
We’re sitting in there and Kirk busts in. “Yo.” We’re like, “What’s up, Kirk?” And he says, “Yeah, I won. I need my money.” We’re like, “You’ll get paid! It’s only the first quarter! You won the first quarter!” He’s like, “Oh. They told me I had to come here and get my money right away or I wouldn’t get it.”
We’re just giving him all kinds of (crap.) We’re like, “Are you kidding me? Just because you came in here, we’re not giving it to you.”
So we told him to get out of our suite, but he sat there and watched the rest of the game.
The thing is, he won the second quarter too. He won some big money that night. He was fairly new, so he was just sitting in the corner with a smirk on his face because he had just won that money. He was just sitting back there and smirking at us, and we were giving him all kinds of (crap.) It was brilliant. He was just sitting there awkwardly, waiting for us to give him his money. We wouldn’t give it to him until the end of the game, so he was just waiting there in the corner, smirking at us.
When the game was over, we finally gave him his money and he left.
He comes in, first year on the team, and wins two or three hundred bucks during the first half of the Super Bowl. That was ridiculous. And I loved that he was so smug about it and went and asked for his money from Will, Danny, and Chad.
I remember some of the guys telling me the next day that Kirk had also made some side bets with some of the other players. It was a really good sign that he had really worked himself into the team and assimilated himself with everybody so quickly. He had gotten so comfortable and he was such a likeable kid that if it had been anyone else his age, the guys probably would have been like, “Who’s this a**hole?” But because it was Kirk, they just laughed and paid up.
So then, in classic Tucker fashion, Tucker sends a text to everyone that night saying, “For tomorrow, everyone is off from training. Kirk Urso, report to the field at 8:00 a.m. and bring your running shoes.”
You could hear all of the coaches and players laughing as they saw the text because it was just Tucker busting Kirk’s balls for winning all of the money.
The next morning, guys were giving him grief in the training room, saying it was bull(crap) that some rookie was winning all that money. He was all smiles because he was getting all that money. So I asked him, “How does a rookie win the Super Bowl pool?”
He just looked at me, totally serious, and said, “I told you. I know magic.”
And then he gave me that little smirky smile and walked out of the room. So I thought, alright, I guess he knows magic.