For Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles, it was a “small gesture.”
To those who run the Twitter account for the Sam Cali Invitational, it was “the best Christmas gift ever.”
Bortles sent an autographed jersey along with a signed note to the family of Cali, who died in June 2016 just before beginning his sophomore year as a member of the Rutgers wrestling team. The note read:
Dear Capt.. and Mrs. Cali, and Michael:
It is with sorrow that I learned about the tragic death of your son and brother Sam. I understand that not only was he an outstanding athlete on the Rutgers wrestling team, but a fine individual with a passion to help improve humanity, with a specific heart for our veterans.
I understand Sam followed my career and even had a jersey. Please accept this autographed jersey of mine in honor of Sam as a small gesture of my condolences to your family.
The Jaguars were Cali’s favorite NFL team and Bortles his favorite player.
“We are truly honored for this amazing gift,” Tweeted the account for the Sam Cali Invitational, a high school wrestling tournament in New Jersey.
Cali and his friend, Leonidas Vagias, were killed in a car accident along I-287. Both were former Don Bosco High School athletes.
An anonymous Rutgers donor pledged $100,000 in memory of Cali towards the naming of an assistant wrestling coach’s office in the soon-to-be-built RWJBarnabas Health Atlantic Performance Center. Wrestling will train in the multi-purpose training arena beginning in 2019.
The donation was in conjunction with a challenge to inspire fans to purchase more than 2,000 season tickets, and Rutgers eclipsed the number.
Bortles was the No. 3 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft out of Central Florida. The Jaguars captured their first AFC South Division title this season with Bortles enjoying a resurgence at quarterback.
Here is the Tweet:
A big thank you to @BBortles5 and the @Jaguars for the best Christmas gift ever! We can’t wait to watch them win in the playoffs (and the superbowl). The Jaguars are Sam’s favorite team and Mr. Bortles is his favorite player. We are truly honored for this amazing gift! #GoJagspic.twitter.com/JPf3oYDtfe
— SamCali Invitational (@cali_foundation) December 26, 2017
Ryan Dunleavy may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @rydunleavy. Find NJ.com Rutgers Football on Facebook.
Link to article: http://www.nj.com/rutgers/index.ssf/2017/12/jaguars_qb_blake_bortles_sends_autographed_jersey_to_family_of_late_rutgers_wrestler_sam_cali.html