LOGAN ZANGER'S "BIGGEST FAN"-THE STORY OF HOW AN ALL PRO WIDE RECEIVER BROUGHT JOY TO A GRIEVING QUINCY FAMILY
It's an inevitable part of growing up a sports fan. That gradual realization that even your fondest Sports Hero is all too human.
A reality reinforced by a seemingly endless run of daily headlines outing the fakes, the phonies and the cheaters.
Once in a while though, someone comes along who allows us to squint just enough to see the world through ten year old eyes once again.
That the guys on the field of play can, in fact, be too good to be true.
For the Zanger Family ...and maybe for you too after hearing their story....that someone just may be the best Wide Receiver on the Planet.
Logan Zanger (reading) "I got a letter telling me you were a fan of mine. I wanted to tell you that I am a fan of yours and that I am proud of you for just being you. Keep working hard in class and be a good Big Brother to your sisters. Best wishes, Larry Fitzgerald."
Shannon Zanger: "Larry Fitzgerald is now and forever my favorite player and whatever team he is on, that's my team."
Jeff Zanger: "We may all have Larry Fitzgerald Jerseys by the time this is over and I told Logan we'll go down and watch every time Arizona comes to town, we'll go to that game. It's an amazing thing to watch a Professional athlete respond so personally."
Larry Fitzgerald's first act of kindness on behalf of the Zanger Family happened completely by accident.
Logan Zanger: "I got his gloves at a football game in St Louis vs the Rams."
Jeff Zanger: "As Mr Fitzgerald was running off the field, he kind of took a left turn and ran over and another adult pointed at Logan and said "give them to him" and he just ran straight up to Logan and Logan had a ball and a pen. He was hoping to get an autograph. And he really didn't know what to do. He was holding out the pen and the ball. Larry was holding out the gloves. And he finally told Logan "Here kid, take the gloves..."
Logan Zanger: "I wore them to feel how sticky they were. And just to keep them close."
Duerr: "How big were they on you?"
Logan Zanger: "Like right here..."
What the All Pro Wide Receiver could not have known is just how perfect a recipient he had chosen. Logan Zanger was a young man in need and richly deserved of a reason to smile. A boy living with the grief of burying his little brother within the past year. As a Father, Jeff Zanger felt compelled to share his gratitude with the idol who had put a smile on his son's face.
Jeff Zanger: "It (Jeff's thank you note) was more a thank you for him. As a coach, I talk to the high school kids a lot about how they can impact the younger kids if they just acknowledge them in the hallways or acknowledge them at a ballgame. So I wrote that to Mr Fitzgerald just thanking him for the impact he made on Logan and for our family. And knowing all the negatives that we hear about Professional Athletes, I felt like he really needed to be commended for the positive he is doing."
Shortly thereafter, Larry Fitzgerald's Second Act of Kindness on behalf of the Zanger Family arrived by mail. This one completely deliberate and completely personal....
Logan Zanger (reading from the autograph Fitzgerald sent him) "To Logan, I am proud of you for your courage and perseverance. Losing your Brother is not easy. My heart goes out to you and your family. I know you will always keep him close to your heart..."
Shannon Zanger: "He had no idea what was going on for a minute (when he opened the package) I think it took him a second whenever he was reading it to figure out exactly what he was reading. Jeff had said that he had written the thank you but it wasn't really sinking in quite yet that his hero had written him. He has been a Larry Fitzgerald fan for a long time. He's got the decals in his room. He does love him. And we all do."
Duerr: He's the best wide receiver in football and he says you are his hero, what does that mean to you?
Logan Zanger: "Makes me feel important that he is like, that good, and everybody knows him but then he's saying I'm his hero so just knowing that he knows me and thinks I am a good kid and good in class makes me feel really special."
Shannon Zanger: "It was an amazingly selfless thing for Larry Fitzgerald to do. He didn't need to. He was given this amazing gift to be this incredible athlete and he's turned that into what it should be and that is the ability to reach out to other people, especially a child who is hurting and has been hurting the last couple of years and has already had to give up so much. It was wonderful of him to reach out and give his time like that."
Duerr: I am not sure a Child Psychologist, or Doctor Spock, or anyone could have hit that moment better or said more perfect words.
Shannon Zanger: "Right. Such a beautiful sentiment from someone from someone who I don't believe has experienced anything like this. One of the hardest things is feeling lonely in your grief sometimes and for him to have pulled out that piece and called Logan a hero and said that he was his fan was just a really wonderful way to do that for a ten year old kid."