Side Lines: A long journey leads to Super Bowl confetti for Elkhart native
Posted: 02/09/2013 at 4:00 pm
By: Bill Beck
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Kenico Hines, Elkhart native, asst. equipment manager for Baltimore Ravens
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. The Ravens won 34-31. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis (52) holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and linebacker Ray Lewis (52) celebrate after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed (20) holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed (20) celebrates after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Baltimore Ravens tight end Billy Bajema (86) lays in the confetti with two young boys after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Marcio Sanchez)
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis, right, and head coach John Harbaugh celebrate after their 34-31 win against the San Francisco 49ers in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Dave Martin)
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis holds up the Vince Lombardi Trophy as he celebrates with free safety Ed Reed (20) after defeating the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 in the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Baltimore Ravens defensive back Chykie Brown (23) celebrates after the NFL Super Bowl XLVII football game against the San Francisco 49ers, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2013, in New Orleans. The Ravens won 34-31. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
It’s not always the mountain top view, it’s the sweat and toil of the climb.
The finish line is the target, yet it’s the push and grind through all the steps that we should embrace.
Kenico Hines knows all about the grind and the climb.
He hasn’t just experienced challenges, he’s lived them — from growing up as a foster child to toiling through 20-plus years of behind-the-scenes work in college and pro football.
So forgive the man if he actually took time, albeit for a few minutes, to revel in the Baltimore Ravens’ Super Bowl celebration on Sunday, Feb. 3.
Hines, a 1993 Memorial High graduate, is a first-year assistant equipment manager with the NFL franchise.
His time to soak in the moment didn’t last long, but the memories will last a lifetime.
“I took a few minutes to run around, raise my hands. It’s the most unbelievable feeling with that confetti,” Hines said on Friday. “Ray Lewis talked about it to the team, that the most unbelieveable feeling in the world is that confetti falling on you.
“So, yeah, I took time to enjoy it.”
Then almost on cue, while the Superdome celebration continued around him, it was back to work.
There were helmets to pick up, jerseys and shoulder pads to gather — in other words, his routine.
If during the post-game party, Lewis’ helmet or Joe Flacco’s jersey would mysteriously disappear, someone up the chain of command would likely have Hines’ head on a silver platter.
That scene, thankfully, was avoided.
Hines did, however, get a turn to cradle the famed silver-plated Lombardi Trophy.
“That was awesome,” Hines said of the wild locker room “gridlock” after the game. “The Ravens are such a family-oriented organization ... if you wanted to take a picture, take the picture. It was very special.
“Anybody who works in professional sports knows there’s lots of sacrifice and to be able to make it to the pinnacle of my profession is special. I thought about how I got there. There was lots of sacrifice, lots of time involved.
“Lots of being at work at 6 in the morning and working until 7 or 8 at night. Even longer during training camp. That’s what you work for. That’s why you start on April 15th and work until February 3rd, to have that moment.”
Hines witnesses first-hand how much time NFL players put into their craft. It’s a world most fans can’t fathom.
“You can’t believe how hard they work,” Hines said.
And the players, according to Hines, see how hard the staff works, too.
Hines and his four other comrades have a task which would seem to be simple in nature, but is an around-the-clock job — making sure the players and coaches have everything they need.
Ray Rice needs new gloves? He gets them.
Joe Flacco lost his helmet? Find it.
Terrell Suggs needs a facemask or chinstrap adjustment? Do it.
John Harbaugh wants a rain jacket? It’s there.
From April to (hopefully) February, Hines and the equipment staff are on call — training camp, OTAs, preseason games, practice — from shagging punts and practice kickoffs to catching warmup passes for quarterbacks.
During that frosty below-zero playoff victory in Denver, the team needed extra cold-weather gear on hand.
His job is to serve the team with courteous and professional efficiency.
And as unlikely as it would seem given the diva, prima donna exploits of today’s high-priced NFL talent, Hines and his comrades are, in return, treated in a courteous and professional manner.
“Everyone appreciates us as a staff ... we all work together. They treat us very professionally. They understand,” Hines said. “They see how hard we work so that they can perform their job.”
No snide remarks. No belittling the hired help.
Straight up respect.
During the 35-minute power outage at the Superdome on Super Bowl Sunday, Hines hung out and waited like the rest of the world, yet he was constantly watching players to make sure they were cared for during the delay.
“Our players were pretty loose,” Hines said. “We have pretty veteran group and they stay focused.”
Hines has focused on his craft as well.
From a graduate staff position at Indiana State, to an internship with the Dallas Cowboys, two short stints with the Chicago Bears, two years with the New York Jets and eight seasons with Western Michigan University, Hines has developed his skills and knowledge.
He didn’t do it alone.
Both of Hines’ parents died when he was a youngster and he became part of the foster care program. His aunt and uncle, Susie and Andrew Williams, raised him as their own, keeping Hines on the right track and encouraging his growth academically.
“Growing up as a kid, what I’ll tell you is this ... it’s so important, with them with me ... for them to take care of me, to give me a chance,” Hines said. “If you’re just given a chance.”
Hines is blessed with six children who live their mother in Portage, Mich. — Jamia, 18; Veasa, 12; Patrick, 10; Kayra, 8; Trini, 8; and Jeren, 6.
He’s also blessed by the Williams family. Hines invited the couple to share in his Super Bowl experience and he took care of them in every way possible.
Being directly part of the Super Bowl scene was one thing for Hines.
To watch two such important people in his life share in the view at the top? That was icing on the cake.
“They got the royal treatment,” Hines said. “I made sure of that. What they did for me, being where I am today ... to support me, to encourage me, to push me, to help me along the way means everything.
“Twenty-seven years working with sports,” Hines, said, “it was all started by my aunt and uncle. For me, there wasn’t anyone else I wanted to spend that opportunity with.”
What a great opportunity — and journey.
Contact Bill Beck at email@example.com and on Twitter @eTruth_Sports