Tepper shuns hero tag, though football lineman suffered broken leg coming to woman's defense
By Dave Newhouse, STAFF WRITER
But who can truly define heroism? One of Webster's definitions of "heroic" is "daring and risky, but used as a last resort." That certainly would describe Tepper's actions on the night of June 26, 2005. Leffall was crossing
A police officer witnessed the incident. He called an ambulance and applied a tourniquet to Tepper's leg, which was bleeding severely. He had a broken fibula, a dislocated tibia and ligament damage. At
"I didn't think I'd be coming back in this position," he said of starting. "It's really exciting. The coaches believe I've earned my spot." "He's gifted, a big athletic guy,"
"The biggest thing with Mike is a lot of rust," offensive line coach Jim Michalczik said. "He's making the effort, and he's such a good athlete, that it's going to come. Greatness is not a destination, it's a journey." Tepper is on some kind of journey given the events of last June 26. But the man he's replacing at left tackle believes he will get there. "He's big and physical with tons and tons of potential," said Andrew Cameron, who quit football because of multiple injuries with a year of eligibility left. "What I remember about him is that he was progressing upward. It's a shame he was hurt last year because he would have seen some playing time. He'll do a good job for the Bears." Perhaps, Tepper's role as a hero is taken too lightly, by both Leffall and himself. With the rash of drive-by shootings and gang violence occurring in our society, Tepper instantly came to Leffall's rescue without thinking that there might be guns in that car, and quick-trigger mind-sets besides. Therefore, wasn't Tepper daring and risky in protecting Leffall as a last resort? Truly heroic qualities, though Tepper views himself in less mythic proportions.
"I never have a dull moment in my life," he said. "I'm one of the most curious guys in the world. I try to be enthusiastic. I'm a nice guy. I respect everybody." Tepper's father is more than willing to drape the mantle of hero over his son's huge shoulders. "Personally, I think Mike saved a life that night," said Gus Tepper. "Had he not been there, who knows what those scumbags would have done to that girl. I think he deserves a medal. I am proud of his behavior. He is a great kid and an outstanding citizen. I constantly remind him of that."