- Posted April 26, 2010 by
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The Blind Side's Washington Redskins' Hog & Former 1st Round Draft Pick Summits Mt. Kilimanjaro
The Blind Side's Washington Redskins' Hog, 1975 NFL 1st Round Draft Pick and Female Adventure Athlete Summit Mt. Kilimanjaro
Adventure Athlete Payge McMahon and Ken Huff, former NFL 1st round draft pick, Washington Redskins’ Hog and in the 2010 Academy Award movie 'The Blind Side' summit Mt. Kilimanjaro.
The 2010 NFL Draft kids have nothing on Ken Huff!
35 years ago, Huff was the 3rd pick in the 1975 draft. He was even drafted ahead of Walter Payton! He went on to play 11 years in the NFL, became one of the famous Washington Redskins’ Hogs and played in Super Bowl XVIII before retiring in 1986. Inducted into the state of North Carolina's Sports Hall of Fame in 2008, he appears in the 2010 Academy Award winning movie, 'The Blind Side'. Just look for him at Right Guard, #61, in the infamous Joe Theismann scene.
After retiring from the NFL, Ken moved back to his UNC alma mater in Chapel Hill, NC. He became the founder and president of Ken Huff Builders, an award winning custom home building enterprise. Active in the community, he spends his spare time playing in celebrity golf tournaments helping to raise money for a variety of charities.
Sometime after receiving his letter of acceptance into the AARP, I noticed Ken was looking a bit down. Long time friends, and one athlete to another, I knew a major challenge was just what Ken needed! So, I invited him to go with me on an upcoming expedition to climb one of the Seven Summits.
Everyone needs to push themselves to see what they have. Even now in his mid-50’s, after all his football injuries, including a lacerated liver, having broken his leg, collar bone, toe, every finger…twice, not to mention the lack of ANY cartilage left in his knees, I knew he still had it in him. He is one of the few men I truly think could handle childbirth. Ken never complains. He just pops some Advil. I, with my own old injuries, was literally a baby when he was drafted but at least had the age advantage. Still, I was just hoping I had it in me!
We chose the Machame route, also known as the ‘Whiskey Route’. There was no Whiskey on the route, but I think Ken had hoped to pass a bar somewhere along the way. We started our climb just under 6,000 feet elevation and at Machame’s massive wooden entrance gate. Already higher then Mile High Stadium, the warm lush forest greeted our excitement. Ken realized he had never been higher then the great Bronco home turf. It didn’t matter as we sure weren’t in Denver anymore.
Looking like a cross between Harrison Ford and Sean Connery and a twinkle in his green eyes, Ken was ready. We ascended and descended then ascended again. ‘Climb high and sleep low’ they say, along with “Pole Pole”, Swahili for ‘slowly, slowly.’
After four days battling rain, sleet and snow, camping on cold lava rocks in tents, pushing ourselves against altitude sickness, physical and mental exhaustion, we summit Mt. Kilimanjaro at dawn on day five. At 19,340 feet we were on top of the world…or at least on top of the continent of Africa.
Although we were exhausted, we made it! We both agreed it was the hardest thing either of us had ever done. I asked Ken if it was harder then a Joe Gibbs training camp in August and he just smiled. “Compared to this, that was a piece of cake!”
Remember folks, age is just a number. Determination goes a long way!
Adventure Athlete & Writer