On Dec. 24, 2007, offensive lineman Elliot Mealer, along with his brother Brock, father and sister, were involved in a horrific car accident. Only he and Brock survived, though Brock was temporarily paralyzed from the waist down.
Elliot was a Michigan recruit, despite growing up a diehard Ohio State fan and then-Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel previously doing what he could do to convince the lineman to join his team.
Still, following the incident, Tressel made an incredible gesture and sent Mealer and his family flowers. However, that wouldn’t even mark the end of Tressel’s involvement in their lives.
In 2010, after he regained the ability to walk, Brock touched the famous "M Club” banner before a Michigan-Connecticut game to great applause from Wolverines fans.
Tressel then reached out to Mealer and his family again, this time sending a touching letter to Sandy Mealer Barber, Elliot and Brock’s aunt, and it read:
No doubt, the greatest cheer a Buckeye ever received at the Big House!
You must be so proud of those Mealer Boys!
God bless! Go Bucks! Go Blue!
P.S. Thanks for the awesome photo!"
Barber had previously sent Tressel a picture of Brock touching the banner and a thank-you note after the Ohio State coach sent Buckeyes-signed helmets to her for a charity event in memory of her brother.
Elliot spoke to MGoBlue.com about what Tressel’s letter meant to him:
“It was hand-written and it really touched me,” he said. “Jim Tressel and his brother, Doc, recruited me.”
"I've never shared this before, but I think that it's a part of the story that should be told. “To have an Ohio State coach write 'Go Blue!' on a card. How neat was that?"
Rivalries hold importance, but ultimately college sports are about family and togetherness. Tressel’s actions here make that more than clear.