Beyond the game
June 19, 2009


In its nine years, the Pennsylvania Scholastic Football Coaches Association East West All-Star Game has produced several NFL players.

Jordan Steffy isn't one of them.

His place in the heart of the game organizers, though, as one of their favorite alumni is hard to deny, even five years removed from his last visit.

A few minutes after arriving at the Blair County Convention Center Thursday night where he was the guest speaker at the East West Game's awards banquet, Steffy turned, caught sight of Allegheny Mountain Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Cheryl Ebersole and gave her a big hug.

Then he asked her about her son.

"He's doing great, and he can't wait to see you. He just loves you. You were a great role model for him,'' Ebersole told Steffy, "as you have been for so many.

"You were such a huge part of growing this game. More than you can know.''

Steffy felt the game gave something to him, too, and this was another chance to give something back.

"I had a pretty good experience here,'' Steffy said. "I remember how it was in this transitional period that [the players] have between high school and college. There's a lot of unknowns in there. I thought it would be neat to come back and speak, now that I've been through it, and offer a little of my perspective about how it all plays out.''

Steffy's perspective isn't that of what most of the players in tonight's game at Mansion Park probably dream. It's not about being an NFL All-Pro. It's about the life after football to which the vast majority of them will have to adjust after college and going on to become an all-star in life.

In 2003-04, Steffy was a prep All-American at Conestoga Valley, regarded as Penn State's potential recruiting backup plan to Chad Henne before landing at Maryland instead.

Injuries, though, plagued him with the Terrapins. He was hit by a speeding car while crossing the street at the end of his freshman year. Steffy underwent two knee surgeries, an arm surgery and, finally, sustained a broken thumb. Although he won the starting quarterback job each of his last two years, Steffy's career was reduced to 15 appearances and six starts.

"Obviously, there's a lot of things that get thrown at you. You have to block those things out, keep your eye on the prize and move forward,'' Steffy said. "To keep fighting back and have it all ended with a thumb injury is frustrating. But, at the same time, the plan we have for ourselves isn't the plan God has for us.''

So, instead of heading to a pro football training camp, Steffy is moving on with his life. He's been accepted to Georgetown Law School, where he'll pursue his master's degree in real estate development - he also has a degree in kinesiology. He's even considered getting into politics sometime down the road.

However, Steffy's current passion is his charitable foundation for inner-city and disabled youth, Children Deserve a Chance. The 5-year-old foundation just received a grant to build an educational facility in Lancaster and is looking for a sponsor to buy the naming rights.

"It's where I see my focus for a long time,'' Steffy said. "To see people's lives change is pretty powerful. That's what I'm motivated and dedicated to.''

Steffy's advanced maturity was evident during his week here in 2004, when he helped the East to a resounding 39-13 victory. The point total still stands as the most by a team in the game's history.

The East team practiced at Mansion Park that year. Steffy made a lasting impression on then Altoona coach Phil Riccio.

"I remembered what a classy kid he was. We really thought with the type of individual he is and the type of character he has, he'd be a great choice,'' Riccio said of going to game director Kellie Goodman to suggest Steffy for guest speaker. "We're thrilled that he accepted.''

Steffy said he couldn't do it alone, crediting his mentor, former pro wide receiver Darrell Daniel, for giving him the insight before he set foot on a college campus - "His big thing was that your head's going to last longer than your legs or arms ever will.''

Steffy plans to remain involved in football in some way, although it won't play as big a part in his life as it has the last 10 years. He said there were no regrets about how things played out, though.

"I fought until I couldn't fight anymore,'' Steffy said. "That's the biggest thing.

"The crazy thing is, you never know what the end of the story is going to be.''


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