EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

January 31, 2011

DeOssie: Golf with Peyton a highlight

Zak DeOssie
From the Pro Bowl

HONOLULU, Hawaii — My last days here at Pro Bowl week have been like my first days here: Perfect.

It's been really nice to go to a beach and relax in January. Let's just say the water is a little warmer than Salisbury Beach.

I've been able to golf, too. On Saturday, I played with Peyton Manning, my teammate with the Giants, Justin Tuck, and Tuck's father-in-law. I've known Peyton through his brother Eli, whom I am good friends with. We rode in the cart together and had a lot of great discussions. He wanted to know about my engagement, and how I pulled it off. We talked a lot of football, playing in Indianapolis versus the New York area. He gave me a lot of strokes, which I needed, but in the end with both ended up doing pretty well when it came time to pay out.

Peyton is a great guy. He's a pro at this Pro Bowl. He rented a house because he had so much family here.

I know I said this a few days ago, but it's been nice just being around so many great players in this atmosphere. It brings out the best in everybody. The goal as players is not to get hurt and try to win a football game. That's the goal and I think everybody here understands that.

One thing I've done since I got here was remember the people who helped me out along the way, excluding my parents, whom are my heroes.

I remember Coach Rock on my 5th and 6th grade football team in North Andover. He was my first coach in organized football and he really let us have fun without even knowing it. I really think that was important for me to enjoy the game at an early age. We ended up winning the league championship in 6th grade. We were the undefeated North Andover Knights. I'll never forget that experience.

My football and basketball coach at Phillips Academy, Leon Modeste, better known as "Coach Mo," was also a big influence for me. I always remember that he was the first one to meet you when you came to the sidelines, good or bad. He was like that in football and basketball. He was a great mentor for me. He had things in the right perspective when it came to sports, but he was very passionate.

Coach Mo helped me grow into a young man. Phillips Andover is a tough place academically. He helped me immensely.

I also remember Rick Gorman at the North Andover Youth Center, a.k.a. The Old Red Barn. I loved playing hoops when I was younger and we always played over at the Youth Center. He allowed us to have fun over there but he made sure we respected each other and the facility. Some of my greatest memories growing up were at the Youth Center.

Last, but not least, the Phelans, Peter and Brenda, and the Crabtrees, Steven and Brenda, were neighbors of ours on Chestnut Street and two of the greatest families you could live next to. I still am close with their sons, Shawn Phelan and Bryan Crabtree. We will always be friends.

I will have one more entry for this diary on Tuesday, when I will arrive home early in the morning.

Talk to you then.