First, the NFL pulled at our heartstrings with the video of 5-year-old cancer survivor Ryan Encinas scoring a touchdown at Cleveland Browns scrimmage. Now it's 8-year-old Jack Bolton, who got a chance to be the Carolina Panthers' honorary coach for a day.
The video above tells the story of Bolton's big day (the story was highlighted by Panthers.com, which produced the video of his day) that was made possible through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Bolton signed a contract with general manager Dave Gettleman, who tells Bolton he has researched him and thinks he's the man for the job, and as compensation offers all the hot dogs and drinks he can handle. There's a hilarious exchange in which receiver Steve Smith lobbies Bolton pretty hard to get more passes thrown his way. Smith might not have been kidding.
At the end of the day, quarterback Cam Newton asks for Bolton's autograph after the team's scrimmage, and the honorary coach signs Newton's shirt. If that moment doesn't get you, your heart might be dead.
The Panthers obviously went all out for Bolton, who was their coach for Saturday's Fan Fest scrimmage. News 14 in Charlotte said Bolton has spinal muscular atrophy, which is why he moves around in a motorized chair. But he loves football, and coaching the Panthers was a dream come true.
"He doesn't smile pretty much at all. And I'm trying to think of when I've seen him smile that big, and it's never been that big ever,” Eleanor, Jack's sister, told News 14.
Before practice Bolton had a touching speech to the team written out on index cards (yeah, seriously, the entire video is just one great moment after another), but was a little overwhelmed so coach Ron Rivera read the speech to the team.
Here's the speech he had written out, from Panthers.com:
Bolton let the team know he'll be "looking for mistakes when I'm on the field watching you guys." He tells them he'll be watching them from the stands or TV, but just because he's not watching "doesn't mean you can goof around." He had goals for the offense and defense, but kept it positive.
"But as long as you're doing your best, your fans will be happy," Bolton's speech, delivered by Rivera, said. "Even if you do lose a few games, your fans will still be happy, because everybody knows the Carolina Panthers are awesome."
Have to agree with the last part after seeing that video. Their honorary coach is pretty awesome too.
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