Mr. Rodgers' Neighborhood: Jimmy, Others Rally Around Tim Meamber
Tim Meamber and Jimmy Rodgers were small-town guys who came to the University of Washington at the same time and lived out their dreams on the football field.
They became starters, co-captains and dominant fixtures on the Huskies' vaunted Purple Reign defense.
One was a hard-hitting linebacker, the other an equally physical strong safety. Both proved they could mete out punishment and play with anyone.
One hailed from Yreka, California, the other from Ashland, Oregon. The populations of these small towns back then would have barely filled a couple of sections at Husky Stadium on game day.
They played for a Washington team ranked No. 1 in the polls and chased a national championship. All of it proved to be a huge rush. Topping that emotional high would be a considerable challenge later on.
Today, Meamber is a middle-aged homeless man, living in a van and dealing with a laundry list of serious health issues in Arlington, Washington. His struggles, made public by Husky Maven/Sports Illustrated in a series of stories this week, have put him at the top of the Northwest sporting discussion.
Rodgers, who resides in downtown Seattle and sells real estate, finds himself behind the scenes, trying to figure out the best way to come to the aid of his former teammate.
It's no small order.
The former linebacker has battled drug addiction for more than three decades, deals with Parkinson's disease and possibly suffers from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a brain disease caused by a head injury and far too common for football players.
Having great success on the football field brought tremendous pressure off it for all of those involved, with Meamber choosing unrestrained substance abuse as his outlet.
"When you come out of the tunnel in Husky Stadium, in Montlake, and you're No. 1 in the country and 8-0, and you're a co-captain for the coin toss, it's hard to beat that adrenaline," Rodgers said on Wednesday. "It's incredible. It's a tough high to beat. That may explain some issues for us."
Rodgers has become somewhat of a conduit for people offering to help Meamber improve his living situation. The school has reached out and asked if it could provide assistance in some undetermined manner. A Huskies fan created a GoFundMe account for him. Former UW players have scheduled visits with Meamber to make sure he has food.
"I think Tim is receptive to getting help from some of his teammates," Rodgers said.
People have recognized Meamber in Arlington after the spate of publicity and he's OK with that. On Wednesday, he said that greater attention should be put on the health issues that have gripped his body and other physically beaten-down athletes.
"I just wanted to get the word out," Meamber said.
We took an apropos photo of Rodgers, standing in downtown Seattle in front of the Hammering Man, which is what he and Meamber used to do to opponents on the football field.
Check out Rodgers' observations in the video, especially his take on how things might turn out for everyone.