When Dusty Dvoracek was suspended last season he admitted his life had reached an all-time low in more ways than one. However, never during that time did he give up on himself as a person or as a football player.
Dusty, who is one of the nicest football players I have ever met and covered at OU, maintained his excellent GPA, continued to work out, sought help for his alcohol problem and worked to apologize to everybody that he felt he had hurt because of his negative actions.
For the first time since being re-instated to the team following a one year suspension, Dvoracek talked the media on Monday and this reporter was glad to see the big man back in good standing at OU.
"First, I want to say it is good to be back. I just want to apologize to the fans, my teammates, my coaches and my personal family. I made some bad choices last year and I negatively effected everyone, including myself and everybody that I just mentioned.
"I want to make a big apology. I want to thank Coach (Bob) Stoops, President (David) Boren, Scott Anderson and a lot of other people for getting me the proper help that I needed to fix some of those problems. I have been working with some really good people to address those problems and I feel that I am a much better person, a more complete person. I feel I have fixed a lot of things that I felt were wrong.
"I know this will make some people mad, but I don't want to turn this into a circus and focus on last year. I want to talk about and focus on this year, this year's team, and how I am going to help this year's team. I will talk about anything that pertains to this year, but as far as I am concerned last year is in the past and I am trying to move forward.
"I don't want to be a distraction for this year's team. We have a great team with a bunch of young guys that can do a lot of things. I am more excited this year than I have ever been and I can't wait to get back on the field. I just can't wait."
JH: Did you become a better athlete during your suspension?
DD: "That whole year off I worked out with coach (Jerry) Schmidt lifting and running every day. I never stopped. There are some things about my lifestyle that I have changed that definitely make me a better athlete. I am in better shape than I have ever been. I weigh the same, but my body fat is the lowest that it has ever been. I think the fact that I have changed my off-the-field habits makes me a much better athlete."
BBJ: If you were in a position of authority, would you have done what OU did and allow you to come back to the team?
DD: "I think the people in charge made a really good choice. I think I took the proper steps to come back. Yes, I would have given myself a second chance."
BBJ: When you made your mistakes and were dismissed, did you think that was it that your career at OU was through?
DD: "To be honest, I had no idea. I was taking those steps for myself and not to get back on the team. I was actually getting ready for the Senior Bowl in Alabama and getting ready for the combine. This (re-instatement) just kind of happened, but it didn't effect what I was doing. I wasn't doing them to get back on the team, I was doing them to better myself. It just happened to work out this way."
MEDIA: What kind of perspective did you get from watching football last year and not playing it?
DD: "Man, I love football more than anything, I always have. I think I always will. When something you love gets taken from you it was like I lost a part of myself. It hurt a lot. You take for granted playing football here. I learned a lot sitting out those games and watching my teammates. I have more appreciation for the game of football now than I ever had.
"I think the biggest thing was being away from my teammates. Those guys are my family since the day I stepped foot here. I am two-and-a-half hours away from home and these guys are the only guys I have for family. I think that hurt more than football just being away from them.
"When Coach Stoops called me and I learned that I was going to be allowed to come back the most exciting thing was just to get to run sprints with the guys again and to just be a part of that with them again. It is really difficult when you are part of a cohesive group and you get taken away. You are by yourself that becomes very hard."
MEDIA: Did you get to run sprints the exact day when you learned you were back on the team?
DD: "Actually, I got a call from Coach Stoops before we started workouts. I think it was a week later when we started."
MEDIA: It sounds like you really enjoyed that workout?
DD: "It was the best day of workouts that I have ever had. It was really awesome."
MEDIA: Was it during the spring game when you made a sack and the fans were cheering your name that you totally realized that you were back?
DD: "Yeah, I think that first scrimmage I had a couple of sacks and the fans acknowledged that. The spring game was really big. I love playing football and I am excited all the time. In that spring, I had that sack and you could just hear the roar of the crowd. It gave me shivers and it gave me goose bumps on my arm. I just thought at the time that there was no place that I would rather be than right here at Oklahoma. Right then it finally hit me that I was back and that I had one more shot at this thing."
MEDIA: Did you watch the games last year?
DD: "Yeah, I watched all the games on television. I didn't miss any of them. I about threw, I can't tell you how many different things through my TV during the OSU game. That was a pretty stressful game. It was hard watching the guys, but at the same time they did a heck of a job. Carl Pendleton did a great job stepping in and filling in for me. I was so proud of them how they performed. I went to the Big 12 Championship game and I got to see that, and that was really awesome."
MEDIA: Did you watch the Orange Bowl from your couch?
DD: "Yeah, I was going to go down to Miami, but I took an intersession class to get closer to graduating. I have it set where I only have to take one class this fall and then I graduate. I was going to go down to Miami, but I figured it would be just as good to get a class out of the way and watch it at home. It was a tough one to watch, because for the guys it wasn't there night."
BBJ: Your situation had drawn responses both negative and positive from so many different people. And those that are negative, you understand where they are coming from don't you?
DD: "I think everybody has a right to their own opinion. This is America and everybody is going to think there own way. The people that don't think I should have gotten a chance to come back are entitled to their opinion. That is fine. The people that do, I appreciate their support.
"I acknowledge everyone's support, and that includes a lot of you guys in the media who have been behind me. I really appreciate that. It means a lot to me. Whether people agree or disagree with me, I am going to keep pushing on. I know what I am doing is right and as long as I know what I am doing is right, I am going to keep doing it."
MEDIA: How did you hurt your arm?
DD: "It was a fourth and one play and they put me in for that one play in the second half. Kejuan got the ball and I grabbed him in the backfield and the center was hanging onto my arm. I tried to rip it off and he pulled down at the same time. It was kind of like trying to curl 300 pounds and the tendon snapped. Dr. (Don) McGinnis did a heck of a job, it is almost 100 percent. As soon as they give me the green light I will be ready to go."
MEDIA: Do you think you are going to be ready by the first game against TCU?
DD: "I think that I am going to, but that is going to be up to the doctors. I don't see any reason why I wouldn't be able to because I think I am almost 100 percent. If it is up to me, then of course I am going to play because I missed so much football that I don't plan on missing any this year. Unfortunately, it is out of my hands. It is in the doctors hands at this point."
JH: What we heard is that you didn't realize you were hurt until you got all the way back to the locker room. Is that true?
DD: "My arm was hurting, but I didn't realize what I had done. We stopped them on that fourth down and I came off the sideline and told them that my arm was kind of bothering me. They looked at it and put some ice on it. Then after the scrimmage, we went into the locker room and looked at it, x-rayed it and the doctor started feeling around and he couldn't find the tendon.
"So, they had a person go with me to the MRI place and I got an MRI done and then had surgery the next morning. I had surgery at 6:00 a.m. on Sunday because time was kind of money at that point. The quicker we got it done the quicker that I would get back, so I got it done first thing."
MEDIA: If you learned one lesson from all of this what would that one lesson be?
DD: "I think the biggest lesson is that when you play at a school like the University of Oklahoma, and when you are in the spotlight like we are, you have to be responsible for your actions. You have to be smart about what you are doing. You just can't be a loose cannon out there doing what you want.
"There are so many kinds and parents who look up to us and we are their heroes. I took that for granted and I was very irresponsible. The biggest thing for me is just to be a responsible person. I was not and I regret it, and look to move on."
MEDIA: Do you think you are a role model?
DD: "I definitely think that I am a role model. I don't think there isn't a person here who hasn't mad a mistake. I think everybody makes mistakes and I think the biggest thing is getting up from them. You can make a mistake and stay there laying down letting people walk on you.
"I could have easily just gone to the NFL and tried to make what I could have at the time, but I wanted to come back here and stare this thing right in the face. I didn't want to leave Oklahoma as the guy who got kicked off the team. I wanted to leave Oklahoma showing people what I am really about. I wanted to show people what kind of character I have. I made a mistake and I am going to move on from it."
MEDIA: Did you address the team?
DD: "Yeah, I addressed the team several times. I wrote them a letter right after it happened and I addressed them right after I came back. I also addressed them yesterday for about 10 minutes."
MEDIA: Didn't you write a lot of people letters?
DD: "I went home to my family and wrote about 25 letters to different people apologizing for my actions. I felt that was necessary because I had let down a lot of people. I had put a lot of people in tough situations and forced them to make tough decisions that they probably didn't want to. I felt that was wrong of me to do that."
MEDIA: How has this situation changed or improved you as a person?
DD: "The biggest thing is that I quit drinking. I have put that all behind me. That is more than anything the biggest thing. I go to bed at 10:00 p.m. every night and I have calmed down. That was kind of the big problem, I didn't need to change anything other than that. When I was out late is when I was always getting myself in trouble."
MEDIA: You got a lot of ovations in the spring, but up until that time were you questioning how people would react to you?
DD: "It was awesome. I was hoping that was how everybody was going to react. I guess I really didn't know, but when they kept clapping and supporting me, of course that increases your self esteem and that makes this whole process that much easier — just knowing that I have the support of the fans."
JH: You have always been great in the off-season and in the weight room, so how much has your arm limited what you did this past off-season?
DD: "More than anything I love lifting weights. Some lifts I couldn't do for a while, and now I am back to doing all my lifts. I do everything the other guys do."
JH: Before the injury you were the strongest guy on the team, so can you still lift the same massive weight?
DD: "I haven't maxed out lately, but I am sure I am still somewhere up there. They won't let me throw all that weight on there because there is really know point in it. I am pretty close to being as strong as I was. I don't see any reason why I won't be by the time the season starts."
MEDIA: Is it safe to assume if you have to watch the first game from the sidelines that will be better than watching the game at home?
DD: "Yes, that is safe to assume. Watching the game from the sidelines because I am hurt is better than watching the game on TV."
Dvoracek: "I owe everyone a big apology"
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