On Friday, news broke that the father of Detroit Lions linebacker Steve Longa had been killed by an SUV while trying to cross the street. It was thought that Longa would likely miss Sunday's game against the Minnesota Vikings to return home to his family, but that was not the case and he suited up and joined his teammates in Minneapolis.
Following the Lions 14-7 win over the Vikings, the Detroit Lockerroom was filled with joy and excitement. That is until Lions defensive lineman Haloti Ngata took the duties of awarding the game ball.
Watch as Ngata is clearly holding back tears as he hands the game ball to Longa.
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Lions head coach Jim Caldwell talked about Longa's courage and explained why Ngata was chosen to hand out the game ball.
“He's a courageous young man, and was really close to his father as well,” coach Jim Caldwell said. “It certainly took a lot to go out and do what he did. He came back and wanted to play, and I thought he conducted himself appropriately. Certainly played well, and I know his father is proud of him as well.”
“Haloti lost both his parents early, and he wanted to give (the ball) to him because he understands and has gone through exactly what Steve is going through right now,” Caldwell said. “I think our entire team was grateful to be able to give him a big hug, and obviously see him off, because he went back home this morning.”
H/T to Kyle Meinke of MLive for quotes used in this piece.