New Orleans Saints guard Tim Lelito helped the team move past the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday Night Football despite a recent family tragedy.
Lelito played in place of injured starter Jahri Evans and was rewarded with the game ball by head coach Sean Payton. Lelito played despite the recent loss of his grandmother, who adopted and raised him at a young age.
ESPN’s Mike Triplett has the details from all involved:
“It was, ‘Block it out, I have a job to do.’ But at the same time, I knew that she was going to be with me and help me along the way,” Lelito said.
Other plays weighed in as well:
“Unbelievable,” Saints quarterback Drew Brees said of the performance. “Tim Lelito, undrafted free-agent rookie. Obviously in a week where you really have very little time to prep — for a young guy to get one walk-through, basically, and then get the news that his grandmother who raised him passed away and go back and take care of her and the family and then meets us here last night. Obviously an emotional deal for him, a roller coaster and yet, comes out, starts and plays phenomenal. He got a game ball in the locker room, and it’s well-deserved.”
Kudos to the undrafted rookie from Grand Valley State. It was far from a perfect performance, but a beautiful body of work overall given the circumstances. Payton agrees:
“It’s not going to be a perfect film. But for him to fly in after the funeral, watch some extra tape last night and then play like he did tonight, it was pretty strong. And pretty emotional I’m sure, for him,” Payton said.
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