Skip to comments.Lights, camera, action for 'Pops' (inspirational football story from South Carolina)
Posted on 09/30/2004 6:09:59 AM PDT by Moose4
The morning of USCs game against Troy, three executives from Paramount Pictures showed up at the house of Gamecocks receiver Tim Frisby.
Already this week, Frisby has appeared on CNN and ESPNs Cold Pizza.
Tonight, Frisby will do the Late Show with David Letterman in New York.
At least 100 representatives of newspapers, TV and radio stations across the country from Sports Illustrated to the Syracuse University student newspaper to a Tucson, Ariz., sports talk show hosted by someone named Pork Chop have called about interviewing Frisby.
Everyone, it seems, wants a piece of Pops, the only 39-year-old college football player in the country.
Its not something I sought out. I thought I could come in here and try out and, if I was capable of playing, play, Frisby said. Really my first three or four weeks in the program where I was unnoticed, that was great. I just wanted to play.
But after ESPNs College GameDay ran a feature this month on Frisby a 20-year, Ranger-trained Army veteran and father of six who returned to school and tried out for a major college football program USC began receiving as many as 30 media requests a day for Frisby.
The attention only intensified when Frisby, known as Pops by his teammates, played the final four snaps in a 17-7 win Saturday against Troy. The national morning news programs and late-night talk shows jockeyed to land Frisby first.
This was absolutely inevitable, said Bob Thompson, a pop-culture expert in Syracuses Radio, TV and Film Department. The very idea of a 39-year-old going back to college, thats a story itself before you add the football element.
Thompson believes Frisbys story has the makings of a made-for-TV movie and perhaps a big-budget feature film. It would be even better if he were constantly throwing the winning touchdown, he said, but you dont need that.
DreamWorks, Sony, Warner Bros. and Paramount have inquired about Frisby. Under NCAA rules, Frisby would lose his eligibility if he makes any formal agreements with a publishing or production firm.
Frisby directs all inquiries to USC assistant sports information director Gavin Lang, who has spent the past three weeks serving as Frisbys handler/publicist. Lang takes everyones number and tells them Frisby will get back to them after the season is over.
But that did not stop Paramount executives from showing up unannounced at Frisbys northeast Columbia home. Frisby had run out to the store, and his wife, Anna, was at work. But the couples older children asked the men to wait outside until their father returned.
No financial terms were discussed. At this point, the motion-picture companies are just trying to make contact with Frisby, Thompson said.
With U.S. forces in Iraq, Thompson said Frisbys military background also would play well in Peoria. Although he served during the 1991 Gulf War and the Kosovo conflict, Frisby points out that he was far from the front lines.
Frisby, a human resources specialist whose highest rank was sergeant first class, was in Stuttgart, Germany, for the Gulf War, protecting an Army base from a possible terrorist strike. He also helped transport equipment to U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia. Frisby was stationed in Italy in 1999, providing ground communications for U.S. troops in Kosovo.
I wasnt on the ground like these guys, taking casualties and stuff like that, Frisby said. Youre talking about heroes. I dont even mention myself in the same breath. Those guys are actually down doing the dirty work.
But there is a part of Frisby that prefers doing the dirty work and taking on challenges that would appear extreme or even foolish to outsiders. Eight years after he joined the Army right out of high school, Frisby volunteered for Airborne training and later received a waiver to go through Ranger school, which included parachute jumps into the Great Smoky Mountains.
All along, Frisby a two-sport high school athlete in Allentown, Pa. kept himself in shape playing Army basketball and football. While based at the Pentagon in the mid-1990s, Frisby and his Army buddies used to play pickup basketball at Georgetown with a group of Hoyas that included Allen Iverson.
Frisby declared himself eligible for the NBA draft in 1996. Frisby insists it was not a publicity stunt, but rather an educational tool.
I didnt do it as a lark, he said. I just did it as kind of a feeler to see if people out there were watching, how they went through it.
Caroline Frisby, a retired physicians assistant, raised five boys on her own after her husband died of prostate cancer when Tim Frisby was 2. The Frisby boys advanced to varied and successful careers in mechanical engineering, insurance, construction and business. But one never stopped dreaming about being a college athlete.
Despite averaging only five points as a high school senior in 1983, Frisby received a scholarship offer to Tennessee State, whose coach had connections in Allentown. But so-so grades convinced Frisby he wasnt ready for college, so he enlisted instead.
A transfer in 2002 brought Frisby and his family back to Columbia, where he was stationed at Fort Jackson from 1984-88. He started taking classes at USC and called the football office about trying out, but was told only full-time students were eligible.
When he began taking a full load in broadcast journalism this past spring, Frisby called back. And the rest is history still in the making.
I didnt want to be one of these guys talking about it. Hey, this guys no good. I could be out there playing, Frisby said. Until youre out there doing it, then youll see how good these guys are or how good you are. You have to measure yourself against it.
Frisby, 6-foot-1 and 188 pounds, is not expected to travel with the Gamecocks to Alabama this weekend. For now, his role is with the scout-team offense, which runs the opposing teams plays during practice.
USC coach Lou Holtz put Frisby in for the final two minutes against Troy as a reward for his work in the off-season program and his unselfish attitude. Receiver Kris Clark said USC players are not resentful of the attention Frisby is receiving.
We all just laugh about it, Clark said. We tell him, When you make the big time, give us a shout-out. Remember where you came from.
With six children between the ages of 6 months and 16 at home, Frisby realizes what a potential six-figure option could mean to his family.
But he also knows it would mean the end of his football dream.
At this point, I think were just blessed that hes able to play football, which is something he always wanted to do, Anna Frisby said. If theres something that lies at the end of this path that were traveling and it materializes into something, thats fine, too.
Frisby, who will turn 40 in February, originally planned to play two or three seasons before beginning graduate school at USC. Now he wants to see how this season plays out. While Hollywood wants a script about Frisbys story, Pops is not sure the climax is written.
I didnt come into it just to take one shot at it and leave it alone, he said. If Im here, I want to compete and play and try earning the (playing) time. Im not just out here to gain a story.
But it also shows just what an amazing guy Tim Frisby is. How many Army human resources specialists would have the stones to go qualify Airborne, then decide to go to Ranger school? That's one behind-the-lines dude that I'd never call a REMF!
The whole thing has a very "Rudy" feel to it. And Frisby apparently has just enough ability to actually play a little bit...only 4.6 speed in the 40, though, which isn't going to cut it in the SEC. But y'know, somehow after surviving Ranger school, I can't imagine going across the middle on an eight-yard pattern is going to scare this guy a whole lot...
We're hanging onto a better record than Clemson over here in Columbia, so I wouldn't say this story is the only thing we have.... :P
This is a great story, and what's even better about it is Frisby himself. This is a guy who's not only served his country honorably through 2 conflicts (as a veteran of the USMC who flipped on CNN shortly after getting out and seeing my old CO on the ground in Kosovo with my buddies, I can appreciate that greatly), exposing his family to the hardships of a military lifestyle (and it is hard, constantly moving, especially with children), and then he says that the other guys are heroes. And when he gets out, he doesn't take his military training and try and roll over to a civilian job immediately, but sucks it up and goes back to college to finish whatever he started. This is an all around good guy we're talking about here.
The sad thing is all the people who do just the same thing, but don't have their stories put up on ESPN and get totally overlooked. I'm not trying to take anything away from him, but there's a lot of men and women out there who do the same thing.
Heck of a story.
And oh yeah...
How bout dem dawgs!
Oh...yeah. Did I say better record? I meant much better record!
Good luck the rest of the way until November.
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