Craig Sager announced in March that his leukemia had returned after just over a year of the cancer being in remission. Despite the illness, Craig Sager has said he will not let this disease keep him down, and he’s even returned to the sidelines in a show of strength and determination. Despite what can only be called a grueling work schedule for sports broadcasting personalities, the legendary announcer has been keeping an almost regular schedule, including heading to Houston on Saturday night for the NCAA Final Four.
During Sager’s stop there, another legend in his field, George Foreman, paid him a visit. Fox Sports reports the former world champion level boxer did more than simply pay Craig lip service and encouragement. He also brought him a gift, which was meant to inspire Craig Sager to keep fighting even when he was feeling his worst. As he handed autographed boxing gloves over to Craig, and he explained what they meant.
“I wrote on one glove, it says ‘Craig, we fight until the bell rings. There’s no need in ever thinking it’s over, because you’ve got one more punch in you. So the bell hasn’t rung. Fight!'”
The rest of the studio crew was apparently moved by the message and the gift. Craig Sager certainly looked pleased that he was receiving such a personal gift. Sager, in keeping with the theme of the boxing gloves, said he wasn’t going to stop fighting this disease and said he honestly believes he can win this fight. The Sporting News reported Sager referred to being the “champ” in his response when he was thanking Foreman. Sager told Foreman the following,after he received the gift.
“I’ve been knocked down a few times, but I heard you say the champ is inside. I want to win this battle. I want to get up and fight.”
Since Craig Sager made the announcement he had come down with cancer yet again, his friends inside the industry and out have been coming forward and talking about how tough they believe Craig Sager truly is. One friend, Mark Purdy, who is a sports columnist for the Mercury News, recently wrote a column about the Craig Sager he once knew. This Craig Sager was Purdy’s college roommate.
The story centered around a night when Sager and Purdy were going to go hit the bars, and the now Hall of Fame worthy broadcaster decided he wanted to wear his Willie the Wildcat mascot outfit. It turned out Sager was spending his college days as the official mascot for Northwestern University. Purdy said he wasn’t so sure wearing the Willie head was a particularly good idea, but Craig Sager believed even the enemy forces in the Ohio State bar would simply love it.
The columnist said that much like most of the other times Purdy has known his good friend, Craig Sager was the one who had the right idea. The story shed light on the fact that the girls at the bar all wanted to give the man in the Willie head a hug, and all the boys in the place wanted to buy him a beer. Purdy said he believes one of the reasons this little jaunt worked out so well was because his friend just exuded a toughness that others admired and liked.
It’s pretty clear that people who live and work around Craig Sager see that same toughness and take heart in it as well. George Foreman is just one of the people who wants Sager to keep fighting. Now, everyone will just have to sit back and hope Craig Sager can win this fight the same way he won over the people at that bar so long ago.
[Photo by David Banks/AP Images]