The Woody Dantzler film is slowly fading into the nether regions of the Internet.
In an age when every highlight-reel play hits the Web and multiplies a thousand times over, Dantzler’s highlights are few and far between on Youtube.com. And to be honest, most of the teens Dantzler mentors as an assistant football coach at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School likely don’t know much about his exploits on the field as the quarterback of the Clemson Tigers. To be fair, although it wasn’t that long ago — Dantzler wrapped up his career as a Tiger in 2001 — the period of time from Dantzler’s Tiger greatness to now means that most of his players were dreaming about turning the big “One-O” while Dantzler was breaking down Wake Forest film.
For those players, know that coach Dantzler was something special. He was very likely the single best football player to ever come out of Orangeburg. He was also likely the best, or at least one of the best, college quarterbacks to ever take a snap for one of the South Carolina schools, becoming the first player in NCAA history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 yards in 2001. He wasn’t big, standing just 5-10, or perhaps he would have been drafted into the NFL. Still, he was good enough to get a shot in the league, twice with the Dallas Cowboys (if you do go to Youtube for highlights, you will see Dantzler’s fantastic 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown while playing for the Cowboys), and once with the Atlanta Falcons.
Today, Dantzler is 30, and he is busy. He swears he can’t close his eyes and envision the last snap he took on a football field. But, testament to Dantzler’s greatness, he is ready to put on the pads again, this time as a member of the Southern Indoor Football League’s Greenville Force.
Why is Woody coming back?
“You know what, I ask myself that same question,” Dantzler said. “Every time I’m done with it, something happens and I end up going back.”
Get the video cameras out, Dantzler deserves some fresh highlights. Although, the more one talks to Dantzler the more obvious it is that he is not just playing to pad his library of film. Dantzler is different.
He is highly religious. If you are Christian, that’s a highlight you will find on the Web of Dantzler, an interview in which he professes his love for God. He is open about that. He has a long-standing dream of starting a Christian clothing line. But, starting a clothing line takes time and Dantzler stays busy.
Since the Cowboys cut him loose in 2005, he played two seasons of Arena Football, winning a title with the Chicago Rush in 2006. He was drafted by Team Tennessee of the All-American Football League, which has yet to get off the ground. In 2009, he was signed by the Harrisburg Stampede of the American Indoor Football Association, but missed the entire season after popping the patellar tendon in his knee playing basketball. Most guys who suffer season-ending injuries in indoor football call it a year and head home.
Again, Dantzler is different.
“I ended up being a coach (with Harrisburg),” he said. “It was kind of like coaching high school. You have kids who haven’t had much guidance, and it was just like I was working in high school. Some of the men were grown and mature, but some of them were still looking for guidance.”
So, Dantzler never left football. He was just slowed a bit. Don’t worry Force fans, on the field, he is a game changer.
“It’s like riding a bike to me,” he said. “I’m a little antsy to go out there and play with these kids. They might make me look bad, and there are high expectations from people. But, I’m confident in my abilities.”
Greenville can expect more than touchdowns from Dantzler. Sure, he wants to go out, make plays and win games just like the next guy, but the biggest reason why Dantzler is taking his game to Greenville is to continue down the avenue of being a life changer. Force camp starts March 1, and while Dantzler is excited to be on the team, he is as excited about “The Force behind the Dream,” a non-profit community oriented program sponsored by the team.
“It’s about just equipping kids with the tools to make the right choices and steering them away from the status quo of what is typical of at-risk communities,” Dantzler said.
“I’ve been taught where much is given, much is required,” he added “I’ve been blessed to have two parents in the house to steer and guide me, and a family that pushed me to do the right things. A lot of kids don’t have that. Some don’t have a mother or father. They were raised by grandparents, an aunt or an uncle, some don’t have that. God has blessed me with the ability to go out, play football and create a platform to give back.”
When it’s all said and done, the real Dantzler highlights won’t be on Youtube, and even if they were, he wouldn’t be wearing pads. For as great a player as he was, he is an even better person. The most telling stat for Dantzler won’t be touchdowns scored.
It will be lives changed.