Originally, Rex Burkhead was told he was too small and too slow to play running back at the collegiate level. Some thought he wouldn’t stand up to the rigors of Big XII football, and then B1G 10 football when the Nebraska Cornhuskers switched conferences between his junior and senior seasons.
Jack Hoffman is six year old boy from Atkinson, Nebraska, a small town of 1100 in north-central Nebraska. On April 22, 2011, Jack was life flighted to Childeren’s Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska, after suffering a life threatening seizure, which turned out to be a side effect of a large tumor growing on Jack’s brain.
In May of 2011, Jack underwent surgery, which was unsuccessful. Only a small portion of the tumor was removed. Pediatric Neurosurgeon specialists gave Jack a grim outlook: he was likely going to die young.
In September, 2011, just two weeks before Jack would have a second surgery to remove the tumor (which successfully removed 95% of the cancer and stopped his seizures), Jack was able to cross something off his bucket list: meet Rex Burkhead.
Rex Burkhead and Jack Hoffman instantly bonded. Unlike many athletes, Rex spent an afternoon talking, playing, hangout out, and growing a bond with this little boy he never knew. Overnight, Team Jack turned into something incredible.
Because of this opportunity to meet Rex, Jack has been given a new hope in life. He has been undergoing chemotherapy for almost a year, which has seen his tumor shrink considerably.
Late in the fourth quarter of the Nebraska Spring Game, the Nebraska Cornhuskers let Jack Hoffman score the greatest touchdown ever in a spring game.
Former Husker quarterback Joe Ganz drew up a play for Jack, if he could outrun the defense, to convert the first down.
Jack, however, would do more than just pick up a first down.
The red team faced a fourth and short from their own 31 yard line when Taylor Martinez lined up and handed the football to Jack, who sprinted around the right side and outran the defense for a 69 yard touchdown, causing the fans to go crazy and both benches clearing to surround Jack in the end zone, celebrating his incredible feat.
“Team Jack — Pray”. The Big Ten Network recorded a segment about Jack and Rex which aired before the Cornhuskers played the Wisconsin Badgers in the B1G 10 opener for both.
As awareness about Team Jack grew, so too did the opportunities to educate America on pediatric brain cancer. Rex Burkhead has spearheaded the event, and has been rightfully honored. After founding an Uplifting Athletes Chapter at Nebraska, they awarded him with the Rare Disease Champion Award.
In the greatest touchdown ever in a spring football game, Jack and his family got to put all the worries from cancer behind them, and let Jack live a “normal” life, at least for another afternoon.
Whether you love or hate the Huskers, they deserve A LOT of respect for making this happen!