Jack’s run, 2013

Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez (3) and Scott Criss (67) guide Jack Hoffman down the field on his touchdown run during the second half of the 2013 Red-White Spring Game.

the Lincoln Journal Star

April 6, 2013

It was a 69-yard run by maybe the toughest running back to ever set foot in Memorial Stadium. It was a touchdown run that turned Jack Hoffman into an inspiration, a rallying cry: #TeamJack on T-shirts and Twitter and everywhere. More than that, really. It was a run that made a 7-year-old a rock star.

A little boy battling pediatric brain cancer had become best buddies with Rex Burkhead. Soon, the entire Husker team knew Jack. Loved Jack. And so why not let Jack take a handoff in the Spring Game and show off his moves? Bo Pelini thought it was a pretty good idea. And so out came Nebraska’s secret weapon. As the great ones do, he improvised at first, running left even as the blocking suggested he go right. But soon, guided by Taylor Martinez, young Jack found the right hole, the crowd rising to its feet, fans wiping away tears, the entire team chasing after him, until there was a party in the end zone.

They’d play it over and over again on ESPN for days. It’d win an ESPY. It’d be viewed more than 8.5 million times on YouTube. It’d result in donation upon donation in the fight against pediatric brain cancer. Try finding a better play in the playbook than that.

— Brian Christopherson