Lynch's success a family affair

Just hearing his son's name now associated with the Heisman, Jim says, is "overwhelming."

"It's awesome," Jim Jr. says, adding, "Not many people can say how many Heisman candidates you know personally."

"From this neighborhood ... " Dad adds.

"How many people you know have won a Heisman?" Jim Jr. asks rhetorically. "Unless you're one of those big southern states or Texas that gets there regularly, no one over here gets something like that. So to see him getting that kind of recognition with the Heisman Trophy, just even to get invited to New York for something like that is awesome. Just that spotlight on him is cool."


Like most in this predominantly Irish Catholic neighborhood, Jordan grew up rooting for Notre Dame. His favorite movie was "Rudy." And when Charlie Weis was among the coaches visiting Mount Carmel to check on one of Jordan's high school teammates, linebacker Steve Filer, Jordan pined to meet the Irish boss, who, Jim said, showed little interest.

Fast-forward five years to Sept. 22, 2012, the day Jordan poured in 369 yards to lift NIU past Kansas in Weis' fourth game as the Jayhawks' head coach. After the game, Weis sought out Jordan on the field to make amends for the oversight back when he was a prep junior, his dad said.

Jim tells this with the family prince just two spots over on the couch: 10-year-old Justin, his third son, who is currently sporting a white NIU No. 6 T-shirt with an Orange Bowl logo plastered on the chest.

"He has every bit or more of what Jordan had at his age," Jim says.

"He's been throwing the ball," Jim Jr. adds. "We've been playing with him since he was 6 months old."

Sheila says, "Yeah, he's pretty good at basketball, baseball, football"  -- before the embarrassed fifth-grader chimes in, "I'm not that good."

Dad says: "So lemme tell ya. If it's time for him to go to college and if any of these college coaches miss on this one, we're gonna make 'em pay again, right Justin?"

"Yeahhh, sure," he replies in resignation.

For what it's worth, Justin already has his sights set on Northwestern or Stanford. Jordan throws with his little brother whenever he gets some time back home, and the parallels are hard to miss for the family. Jim, who has become so immersed in breaking down Jordan's techniques that the son often reminds his father that he never played the game, jokes that his two older sons corrupted Justin early.

"I had a handle on Jordan 'til he was in like high school," Jim said, turning to look at Justin. "This guy's got me already."

Father's response to the jabs?

"What am I supposed to say?" he says with a laugh.

It is one of the few moments that leaves Jim speechless. The bald, barrel-chested man with a thick Chicago accent could be mistaken for a bouncer at Bourbon Street, the pub right around the corner from here. He has worked for the city for 20 years, driving a pink sweeper by Millennium Park on the overnight shift, from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m., after Sheila returns home from her job at a corrugated packaging company. There, she has had cardboard big heads made of Jordan and his teammates.

She ran into some trouble with the big heads last season, when airport security officials would not let them on the plane back from the Orange Bowl.

"I said, Well I'm gonna leave my son in the garbage can!" Sheila laughed.

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