When Jabari Harris finished the football season with Kansas' MidAmerica Nazarene University in 2013, he couldn't possibly have known the adventure awaiting him in Europe.
He wasn't traveling abroad to see the sights and gain a cultural experience, at least not as his primary intentions. He was going to pursue his dream of playing professional football.
I'm not being cute by calling soccer "football." Harris is a quarterback who signed with Finland's Porvoon Butchers, a 1st Division American football team in Europe.
Now, Harris is the quarterback for the Primacol Lowlanders, a team based in Białystok, Poland.
It's intriguing enough there are professional American football teams in Europe, sure, but after watching the video above, I have an appreciation for these athletes that varies greatly from the admiration I'll feel this weekend when I tune into the NFL playoffs.
For Harris and his teammates, it's all about wins, losses and pursuing a championship, which is remarkable when you consider most of the Lowlanders list football as their second profession.
In the video, Harris says,
When I look at my teammates, you got guys that are chefs. You have business men, and you have engineers. You have doctors, everyday people that make a difference in this world... Most of my receivers, college students, cooks, chefs, an honest living... We've created something that's become so big, which is funny, because in Europe, football's not such a great big sport, but when you come to a Lowlander game and you see over a thousand people there cheering, 'Lowlanders!'
You'd think another important caveat to this tale is the fact a black man from Jackson, Mississippi is leading a group of white men from a remote region in Poland.
But, Harris says,
When I'm here, this is like home away from home. True enough, it's not a million black people running around, of course, but when I look at these guys, I don't see color. I don't see a Polish guy. I see my teammates. I see my brothers, and that's how they make me feel. When I'm here at practice, they don't say, 'Oh, Jabari, the black quarterback.' They say 'Janusz.'
To see such passion and dedication to a game most of these men know only through old movies and highlight reels is nothing short of amazing. Don't let anyone tell you the power of sports doesn't exist.