The NASA crew from Flight STS-129 entertained an audience of students and local VIPs at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday morning.
Led by Commander Charlie Hobaugh, the astronauts talked the audience threw an up-close and personal video of their November 2009 space flight. On board with the crew were several football artifacts. Among the items the astronauts had with them is the coin that will be used for the pre-game coin toss for Super Bowl XLIV on February 7 at Sun Life Stadium in South Florida.
The crew mixed in a nice sense of humor as they presented the flight video and also during the question-and-answer period with the audience. Several times during the program, the astronauts referenced the teamwork needed for a space flight to that of what makes a football team successful. One of the crew members, Leland Melvin closed the presentation by addressing the young students from four elementary schools in the Canton City School District that were in attendance.
He shared a story about his football career. A college scout had attended one of his games and with a potential scholarship on the line, the speedy receiver broke down the sideline and the ball was perfectly thrown to him. But, as it hit his hands in the end zone, he failed to hang on to the ball. Dejectedly he returned to the sideline and the scout made his way toward the stadium's exit.
Melvin told the students that in life everyone will fail at one time or another. But, it’s how one rebounds from the failure that counts.
Having faith in Melvin that day was his high school coach who told him to run the exact same route but this time catch he ball. The play worked to perfection and resulted in a touchdown. As the crowd cheered, the scout looked back at the field to see the commotion. As it turned out Leland earned a football scholarship to Richmond University.[WATCH VIDEO] Later he was drafted into the National Football League as an 11th round draft pick of the Detroit Lions in 1986. An injury kept him from making the final cut. He later tried out for the Dallas Cowboys but was unable to land on the roster. Fortunately, he had his education which has allowed him to reach great “heights” in his career.
Melvin had his Lions and Cowboys jerseys stowed away on the November space mission along with the other football items including a Pro Football Hall of Fame football inscribed with the names of all 253 enshrinees. He presented those jerseys and the other items to Pro Football Hall of Fame President/Executive Director Steve Perry during Wednesday’s program.
Joining Hobaugh and Mevlin were fellow crewmates, Pilot Barry Wilmore, and Mission Specialists Mike Foreman, Randy Bresnik, and Robert Satcher, along with NASA’s Glenn Research Center Director Dr. Woodrow Whitlow Jr.
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