Over the last few years, I have gotten this line a lot. It goes like this.
”Hey, you coached that big quarterback Jared Lorenzen didn’t you”?
Sometimes the word big is less than flattering. I just smiled and said yes. I really wanted to slap those people most of the time because all they saw was this “big” quarterback.
What they didn’t see was the man and the player. Jared was a special football player. Yes, he was bigger than the normal quarterback, but that’s what made him a kind of modern-day folk hero to the people of Kentucky.
He was blessed by God with arm strength that most could never even imagine having. He was also smart, with a knowledge of the game of football that was mind-boggling.
Most importantly, though, he was a great person. Sure, he had a Super Bowl ring and was recognized in his home state of Kentucky by everybody, but he never acted “big time”.
He was just a nice guy.
The first time I met Jared was when I was being interviewed to be an Assistant Coach with the Northern Kentucky River Monsters in the UIFL, a Pro Indoor Football team. The first thing you would notice about him was the fact that he always had a smile on his face.
Jared was the General Manager of the River Monsters in 2011. He had no intention of playing football. That changed quickly as we could not find a quarterback to his liking. Before we knew it, Jared was making a comeback and that year he was really something special to watch.
When I say something special to watch I am not talking about his play (which was pretty damn good). No, I am talking about the way he fit in with the team. Jared really was just one of the guys. If you didn’t know any better, you would never have guessed that this man had won a Super Bowl ring – and was one of the top passers in College Football history.
The team folded after the first year even though attendance was solid and the squad was the best in the league. Fast forward two years later and I’m the Head Coach of a team called the Owensboro Rage. I coached this team with Brian Schmidt who was the Offensive Coordinator. Brian had the same job with the River Monsters two years earlier.
We started the season off strong with a couple wins but had an issue at quarterback, and actually played a game in Louisville without one. We were practicing for our next game against Louisville when Brian came up to me and asked if I would be interested in Jared coming down to play quarterback and save our asses.
I’m not stupid, so I said if he wants to come play that’s fine by me. The next thing I know Jared shows up for practice and our season is saved. He brought his Super Bowl ring to the game. I think everybody in Owensboro got to wear it.
Saying Jared fit seamlessly into our team would be an understatement. Watching him interact with fans after a game was truly amazing. When you were around Jared, he just had that aura.
In 2014, the River Monsters were back. Jared was our signal caller. Our first game was in Lexington, KY. When we got there the field and playing conditions were a joke. We had an offensive lineman who had been a starter at West Virginia. This player decided the field was too bad and he was not going to play. The field was terrible, but Jared was going to play no matter what.
He was a true team leader and competitor. You always knew with Jared that his competitiveness was going to show through in the end. The game went viral with all of the usual mocking of Jared thrown around. We won the game. The next week we played and Jared got hurt and that was it for his time as a player. He didn’t let his injury deter him or weight problems from starting the Lorenzen Project. He wanted to help others that were in the same situation that he was.
That’s another thing that made Jared so special. He worried about others even when he was having his own problems. He always wanted to make everybody smile.
As Brian Schmidt said on his Facebook post, “This hurts big. Jared was a guy who believed in me and my first big job. Came out of retirement twice and I’m proud to say was a close friend for the last eight years. Last time we talked we were talking about all the laughing we did at everything”. The laughter is what I will always remember about Jared, that and an almost Paul Bunyan kind of mystique that followed him around the Bluegrass state. To say Jared Lorenzen was bigger than life has nothing to do with weight because as a person he really was bigger than life.”
Jared Lorenzen will be missed.