If you look carefully at Colt Brennan in the picture above, you’ll notice that he’s wearing a purple bracelet on his right wrist. It’s not just a fashion statement. The bracelet reads ‘Keep Fighting’ along with the letters SRB. Those are the initials of Sean Barnum, a 19 year old in Texas who was stabbed in the heart with a screwdriver last April.
“He was a high school quarterback,” Brennan told me, “looking to eventually go and work himself into a program somewhere. And I guess he was just a big fan of me when I was in college and — I guess he wore my number, too — and his brother-in-law [Justin Jemela] reached out to see if there’s anything I could do.”
So, with help from the Redskins community relations department and a bunch of the other Redskins players, Brennan sent down an autographed football, a signed helmet, and a jersey to the family. And where plenty of athletes would’ve called it a day, Brennan has been trying to do more. Jemela told the Katy Times that Brennan “calls and text messages me almost every day just to see how Sean is doing. He’ll even leave voicemails for me to play to Sean with words of encouragement.”
“I’ve only been able to talk to Sean once,” Brennan said. “His speech hasn’t really come back yet. I’ve built a rapport with his family and I’ve kinda really come to admire and respect what he’s been going through and what he’s had to overcome.”
At this point, Brennan said, “I’m calling, I’m wearing the bracelet in practice, and I’m just kind of waiting for him to get better.”
Brennan’s position on the roster is far from guaranteed this season. The team brought in Rex Grossman, who has experience in new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan’s offense, which likely means that Brennan is battling to be the third quarterback on the depth chart. But, for Brennan, Barnum’s situation really puts his own so-called struggles in perspective.
“It absolutely does,” he said. “You sit back and you hear something like this and you hear about what he’s going through and it’s kinda like his life’s just been put on hold for a lot of things, until he can get better. You know, it makes you just feel really grateful to be where you are and to be doing what you’re doing.”
Brennan looked down on the purple bracelet around his wrist. “It’s not really my color or anything like that,” he joked. “It doesn’t really go with my uniform too much. But if he goes on the internet one day and he sees me out there wearing that bracelet, he knows I’m thinking about him and maybe it’ll be some more positive reinforcement for him. He’s definitely on the path to the recovery, it’s just a very tough and slow path right now.”
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