A feel-good story as big as the man himself

DOWNTOWN MIAMI, Fla -– I knew I loved this event. There is always something to entertain and amuse, but finding a genuine, engaging story is the mother lode of journalistic work.

Eureka.

Step forward Anthony Hargrove, the Saints’ DT and self-confessed alcoholic, just back this season from a year’s suspension and, very possibly, the end of his life as a meaningful human being.

Anthony Hargrove is open about his recovery from alcoholism. (Nell Redmond / Associated Press)

And what a comeback it has been. There are probably bigger stories here in Miami this week (most of them ending in -Manning or -Brees) but I have yet to hear a more compelling one. Hargrove has been “clean,” in sobriety terms, for almost two years but his story in that sense is reasonably well known.

A dropout at Georgia Tech, and then with the Rams and Bills, and on the verge of flushing his NFL career almost literally down the toilet, this genial bear of a man is now an absolute burning beacon of hope for a whole generation of downbeats and ne’er-do-wells.

The details of his rise and fall would fill a significantly larger space than this blog (and will doubtless consume many column inches before the week is over), but it is his open attitude and fearless response to every question on the subject that comes across as truly remarkable.

They say that honesty is the first step to recovery in the bottom-of-the-barrel scraping situation that he found himself.

Well, if that is the case, Hargrove has honesty oozing out of every pore in his body. And you just want to be there cheerleading for him and making sure more people hear it.

It will be coming to NFL Network on Sunday on the network’s eight-and-a-half hour pregame show starting at 9 a.m. ET (his Super Bowl Journey was already captured during the season).

–- Simon Veness

(U.S.-based British writer Simon Veness has infiltrated the ranks of NFL.com for Super Bowl week with his transatlantic take on events.)

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