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Sometimes, good things happen to good people.
This story is proof.
The last time we visited Matt Overton, the Indianapolis Colts’ long-snapper was roaming the halls of Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, bringing a little light into a sometimes dreary world.
The second-year player spent much of the offseason as a frequent visitor, setting up a special VIP trip to a Justin Bieber concert for several teenage patients on one occasion and dipping ice cream and dishing hugs with punter Pat McAfee on another.
That was not just a pro athlete photo op. Instead, Overton has been a regular Riley visitor in less publicized times, as well as a supporter of many local charities. His daily “Morning Snap,” words of positive affirmation sent via Twitter, and fan interaction around town have made him a favorite far beyond the football field.
“Matt is an unbelievable person on and off the field,” said Keri Benge, a Colts fan from Speedway who got to know Overton well, as her 16-year-old daughter has been a Riley patient. “What he is doing around this town is really something for Hoosier Nation.”
That “really something” has carried over onto the field.
Overton, just two seasons into his NFL career, has reached a level that seemed unthinkable a few years ago. He is going to the Pro Bowl.
“It is a huge honor,” the Colts’ No. 45 said from his Honolulu resort, where he arrived Monday for Sunday’s game. “I am very thrilled to get the acknowledgement.”
If you believe in karma, here is your proof.
As is Overton’s style, that karma comes with a huge helping of humility.
“I do believe that good things happen to good people,” said the Western Washington grad, who bounced around the UFL for five years before getting a chance with the Colts in 2012. “But that’s not why I do things in the community. I do it out of my heart.
“I get so much gratification out of spending time with the kids at Riley.”
Perspective is not always a given with any of us, particularly those at the top of their profession, but Overton has it in abundance.
“Two things define you: Your patience when you have nothing, & your attitude when you have everything,” Overton’s “Morning Snap” read this week.
He knows a little about both places.
Nothing has come easy for the Tracy, Calif., native, who was cut from his Pop Warner team at age 8. It was a sign of the future for the kid who always had to prove himself.
“Going through high school and college, I was always the underdog,” he said. “I had to fight adversity every day.”
When a successful high school career did not produce any scholarship offers, Overton went to community college and then to NCAA Division II Western Washington.
That wasn’t exactly a fast track to an NFL career. But you won’t convince Overton.
“If you want it bad enough, you’ve got to keep fighting,” he said. “That’s the theme of my career. I’ve had the drive and the motivation to work through it.”
Undersized as a lineman, he focused on the somewhat obscure but valued task of long-snapping for punts and field goals, a process that required extra time on the field and thousands of repetitions.
Do one thing and do it well was the plan. After five years of bouncing around and a chance audition courtesy of a Facebook post, Overton finally found his way to Indianapolis.
Now, the kid who did not give up at 8 — or at any of the times after when he was told he wasn’t good enough — is in the Pro Bowl, one of the two best at his craft in all of football.
“As a long-snapper, only two guys go a year,” he told the Daily Journal while preparing for Tuesday’s first players meeting. “I knew it was a possibility, but it was bit of a surprise. Usually the spots go to guys who put in more time with the league.”
Overton is in Honolulu with two other Colts players named to the team, quarterback Andrew Luck and linebacker Robert Mathis.
It is a lot to take in for the snapper.
“It has just been a reflective moment on the season and on my career up this point,” Overton said. “It is just a dream come true.”
It is a well-deserved dream for a player who continues to thank Riley from afar for the chance to make a difference off the field.
“It is what the Colts stand for,” he said of the volunteer work that made him locally famous before his first snap of the season. “Riley has opened the doors for us, and we have the opportunity to walk through them.”
And now another door has opened for Overton. He is one of the best, proving himself one more time on a journey of surpassed expectations.
Yes, good things happen to good people.
Overton’s journey gives those words a new twist.
You see, it is not just about sitting back, being good and waiting passively. Good is an action word.
So, with Overton’s help and by his example, let’s rewrite the adage.
Good people make good things happen.
That’s the Morning Snap for today.
Bob Johnson is a correspondent for the Daily Journal. His columns appear Tuesdays and Saturdays. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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