Living A Dream
Published: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 31, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
This was a dream Ian Scott couldn't see when he was a kid growing up in Gainesville.
Bears (15-3)vs. Colts (15-4)
- When: Sunday, 6:30 p.m.
- Where: Dolphin Stadium, Miami
- TV: CBS
- Inside: Former Santa Fe star running back Adrian Peterson doesn't mind playing special teams for the Bears. 5C
He could see the one where he planted a pitch over the wall in Yankee Stadium or striking out the side in Game Seven.
"Since I didn't start playing football until the ninth grade," he said, "I always dreamed about playing in the World Series."
Instead he is here, at Super Bowl XLI Media Day, representing Gainesville and living another dream, one that he saw fading away a little more than four years ago.
Scott will become the third player from a Gainesville high school (Buchholz's Fred Marion and Eastside's Kenyatta Jones are the others) to suit up in football's biggest game.
The Gainesville High graduate and former Florida defensive tackle was soaking it all in as hundreds of media members tripped over each other trying to find the Bear or Colt of their choice.
"It's a little different than your normal Tuesday," Scott said with his gap-toothed smile. "Usually this time of the year I'd be in the snow."
Instead, he is basking in the glow of both a national spotlight and the Miami sun along with his family. His wife Crystal and daughters Skylar and Savannah drove from Chicago to the family's condominium in Haile Plantation on Sunday, then made it south to stay in the family hotel in South Florida. His parents (Teresa is Gainesville's Public Works Director and Randy is the assistant principal at P.K. Yonge) will follow later in the week.
"To have my family here is going to be really special," Scott said. "It's been a fun year with all of the stuff going on in Gainesville. A lot of people like to hate us Gators and we've been making them eat their words. Hopefully, we can do that one more time.
"I'm excited to play in the Super Bowl and represent the city."
His journey here to the season-ending pro football game started as a GHS star and went through a rocky patch at Florida. It was there, during his junior year, that the dream started to look fuzzy.
Steve Spurrier left UF after Scott's sophomore year and the following season was not what Scott expected.
A struggling season under Ron Zook and a knee injury made him take a hard look at where he was headed.
"I tried to play through that knee injury before having surgery (before the Vanderbilt game)," he said. "It was a difficult year and I learned a lot about myself and what I felt about the game of football."
What he felt was a passion that was failing. And even though the word from the NFL Advisory Board wasn't encouraging, he decided there was only one thing to do.
It wasn't easy. He didn't want to walk away from his teammates, from the school he loved, from the city he loved. But with his love for football slowly evaporating, Scott said he had no choice.
"I really wanted to have my senior year in my hometown," he said. "I wanted to have Senior Day on that field against Florida State. But my love for football was the No. 1 thing.
"I felt it was slipping away. It was a frustrating time with all of the losses and the injury. I felt it was the right time to step away and save what I wanted out of football. I wasn't looking forward to my senior year. My junior year was a season full of frustration. The Outback Bowl was another frustrating game. I didn't want to hate football and quit."
Scott wasn't picked until the fourth round by the Bears, leaving fans and media to wonder why he would make such a decision rather than come back for another year that would improve his draft status.
But for Scott, it wasn't about where he was going to be drafted. It was more about starting over.
"My decision wasn't based on money," he said. "People read too much into where a player is drafted. I didn't care where I was drafted. That didn't factor into my decision at all. I wanted to start setting up the rest of my life. And as a rookie at 21 years old, I knew I could be done by the time I was 32 or 33 and still be able to play with my kids, enjoy my family.
"I believed, no matter where I was drafted, I would have a chance to play. And now I'm playing in the Super Bowl."
Scott has been a big part of the Bears' tackle rotation, especially with Tommie Harris' season-ending hamstring injury and Tank Johnson's struggles with the law.
In the NFC Championship Game against New Orleans, Scott had a season-high four tackles.
"He's been a big part of what we've accomplished on defense," said Bears coach Lovie Smith. "With the problems we've had at that position, he has stepped up big for us."
And like the other Gators playing for the Bears, he has enjoyed the run of Gator karma the past year. Scott actually met Florida coach Urban Meyer when Meyer was recruiting him at Notre Dame.
"I liked him then and I like him now," Scott said. "I think he may be coming to the game so I hope I get to see him after it's over."
Contact Pat Dooley at 374-5053 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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