Ol' Ricky's Redskins Tales - Jay Leeuwenburg + AP All Day
Ol’ Ricky has been a diabetic for nearly half his life. Type II, which is much easier than Type I. He’s learned to live with it without too many problems. That’s why he thinks guard Jay Leeuwenburg’s career should be remembered.
Leeuwenburg arrived as part of the fabled and expensive 2000 free agent class that included Deion Sanders and Bruce Smith. The bald-headed guard was under the radar. The Redskins were the fifth and last team in eight seasons for the 1992 ninth-round pick by Kansas City.
Leeuwenburg was a rare pro athlete then playing with Type I diabetes. You could count them on one hand. His journey from age 12 when becoming diabetic to the pros was chronicled in his book “Yes I Can! Yes You Can!” with Denny Dressman. It’s still on Amazon.com as an inspirational read for parents and children.
The Redskins made some accommodations for Leeuwenburg, who started 12 games. There was always a snack by the bench along with a blood sugar meter when he stopped during practice to eat. He didn’t miss any plays in games, but closely monitored his glucose numbers.
Leeuwenberg retired after the season, having played 137 games with 108 starts. Just an inspiring guy to listen when talking of overcoming diabetes. It’s not surprising nowadays that he teaches elementary school in Denver while also coaching high school football.
Tomorrow: Ol’ Ricky remembers Kenard Lang. Lots of stories in my book and these are the types of tales I’ll tell on my “Pizza and Pigskins Tours” later this summer.
Rick Snider is an award-winning sports writer who has covered Washington sports since 1978. He first wrote about the Redskins in 1983 before becoming a beat writer in 1993. Snider currently writes for several national and international publications and is a Washington tour guide. Follow Rick on Twitter at @Snide_Remarks.