HOMEPAGE www.danieljvance.com

 

DISABILITIES

By Daniel J. Vance

 

  "I really want to be a head coach somewhere," said Doug Blevins, Minnesota Vikings kicking coach, over the telephone. "My problem is I've been pigeonholed as a kicking coach over the years and people think that's all I know. I want to do more than just kicking." 

  Blevins, 41, is a lot like you and me. He has career ambitions. He has talent. 

  But he also has cerebral palsy and uses a motorized wheelchair on the gridiron. "I was born with a slight case," he said of his cerebral palsy. "It hasn't affected me that much. I can drive and talk, but can't walk. With me, cerebral palsy is more of an inconvenience. In the home or office I use a manual wheelchair." 

  He began his NFL career as a kicking consultant for the New York Jets and worked for the New England Patriots before a six-year stint with the Miami Dolphins. This is his first year with the Vikings. He left the Dolphins after not coming to terms on a contract. 

  "It's a business and one of those things," he said of leaving the Dolphins. " I loved my time there, but if that hadn't happened I wouldn't be with the Vikings today. Everything happens for a reason." 

  As "only" a kicking coach, does he receive much respect from fans and players? 

  "It depends on the person evaluating me," he said. "But unfortunately, in general I think I get less. Many people think I coach kicking because it's easy. However, in reality it's one of the more difficult things to do in any professional sport. In the industry there is a great deal of respect for what I do because they know what goes into it. The people that really count show respect." 

  Blevins leads a "normal" life. An East Tennessee State Univ. graduate, he's married and has children ages 6 years and 5 months. Wife Nancy is a former Olympic swimmer, having competed in the 1992 Barcelona games for Colombia. 

  "What I find most satisfying are the cards and letters I get from all over the world from people reading about me. Most people writing don't have a disability. Often they say they finished a degree or did something non-sports related because of my story. To have that kind of impact on lives is rewarding. I'm impacting people I don't even know." 

  For more see www.danieljvance.com or www.doublevinskicking.com