I didn't know Brad Hastings. But after talking to several people who knew him very well, I now feel like I know him very well.
Hastings died of heart failure on Apr. 6. Before he prematurely left this earth at age 44, he touched many lives in a positive way.
"Everybody loved Brad Hastings, and everybody knew Brad Hastings,'' said Brad's dad, Fred Hastings. "He and I love each other pretty good.''
Hastings starred at Arlington Bowie High School in the early 1980's, and was chosen as a Parade Magazine High School All-American. He later was one of the top linebackers in the country while playing for Texas Tech.
A celebration of life will be held for Hastings today from 2-5 p.m. in Arlington at 4016 West Division Street. His memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church in Arlington, located at 1200 South Collins.
But there was more to Brad Hastings than just a man who piled up a bunch of tackles for Bowie and Texas Tech. When others wouldn't, Hastings played through one knee injury after another and loved every minute of it.
That courage ultimately cost him a career in the NFL. Indeed, five knee injuries on the same knee derailed Hastings' NFL career before it could get off the ground.
Spike Dykes, who was Hastings' position coach at Tech in 1983, '84 and '85, and the school's head coach in '86, said Hastings' penchant for playing hurt was legendary.
"The last year (in 1986) he played hurt and probably really hurt his chances of making it to the NFL, because he would have been a big-time NFL player had he not gotten hurt,'' Dykes said. "He just kept playing with a hurt knee and it finally got the best of him, as far as in the professional league.''
Among his numerous accolades, here's one thing about Hastings that I truly don't understand. Why isn't he in the Texas Tech Hall of Honor?
No disrespect to those who have already been inducted into Tech's Hall of Honor. But Hastings also belongs right there alongside you.
Hastings left Tech in 1987 as the school's all-time leader in tackles with 480. He still ranks second on that list.
Hastings also was a fierce competitior who was chosen all-Southwest Conference three consecutive seasons. He was so talented that he played in the prestigious Blue-Gray All-Star game in 1986 _ a game reserved for the best seniors in the country.
"He was hands-down the best linebacker in the Southwest Conference,'' Dykes said. "He was a pleasure and a joy to coach, and he had a real passion for the game.''
In other words, if no one at Tech can find time to induct Brad Hastings into the school's Hall of Honor, they might as well shut the whole thing down. The Red Raiders' shrine will be a joke without Hastings in it.
"If he's not in the Hall of Honor, it's an oversight,'' Dykes said. "In fact, I'm surprised he's not (in it already), because he was something else.
"I don't know the faintest idea why he wouldn't be. I promise you one thing, if he's not, he's got to be, big-time.''
Tech coach Mike Leach summed up the feelings of the Red Raider Nation in regards to Hastings' passing when he said: "It's a real tragic deal and we're all sad.''
-- Dwain Price