Some weeks.. I just need a giant PAUSE button. Those times when my to-do list just gets longer and longer. Those nights when I’m lying awake, thinking of everything I need to get done the next day.
We have had one of the most exciting adventures of our careers in the last month here at KETV, moving into our new home at 7 Burlington Station. Along with planning, boxing up desks, and rehearsals in our new space, we were also keeping up (or trying to) with day-to-day news operations. YOWSA–I think I speak for all of us when I say we were READY to move in and get back to normal!!
I tell you all of this… because I did not give this week’s Throwback Thursday Husker his much-deserved blog post in association with his story. However, HE is so busy, I’m guessing he’s got more important things he’s focused on.. like keeping Omaha safe, and recruiting a new generation of heroes to do the same.
#44 Gregg Barrios, Nebraska Kicker, 1987-1990
Lieutenant Gregg Barrios is one of the highest ranking officers to serve with the Omaha Police Department. He’s active in his church and community, and he’s the father of eight children. Barrios is also known for the four years he played football for the Huskers.
“Some people, when they get my name, they’ll recognize it, or ‘are you related to that guy who used to kick for Nebraska?’ I get that once in a while,” Barrios told me recently. “Probably the most avid Nebraska fans, they can remember that far back.”
Barrios is a Nebraska guy, born and raised. The Creighton Prep remembers listening to the Huskers as a kid, a boy with big dreams early on.
“Playing football in the backyard, listening to Lyell Bremser and all that, wishing that someday I could play for Nebraska,” said Barrios. He still remembers his first game, one he got to suit up for, a privilege allowed to a few, select freshmen.
“I’m nervous, some hot shot California upperclassmen is like, ‘what are you nervous for? You’re not even gonna play.’ Some Nebraska guy’s like, ‘you don’t get it,'” said Barrios. “I remember running on the field, it was a night game against Florida State. And at the end of the game, I ended up getting to play.”
Barrios’ favorite game came the following year, when #2 Nebraska played #10 Texas A&M to kick off the 1988 college season.
“I found out the night before I’d be starting. I was like ‘oh my gosh!'” said Barrios. “I’m put into the game, had a really good game. I kicked three field goals and there were three records for the Kickoff Classic, including longest field gal in a game. Then, we won, of course.”
Off the field, Barrios’ was interested in law enforcement, a curiosity sparked by having a dad in the military and by a professor specializing in criminal justice. He joined the Omaha Police Department in 1996.
“I started uniform patrol like everybody else did,” said Barrios. “I also worked in the warrants unit, working in training, worked in investigations, and now in backgrounds and recruiting. This department is one of the best in the Midwest, by far. We have a lot to offer for candidates.”
Barrios says there are many parallels between being a Husker football player and being a police officer (or firefighter, as his friend across the street, Asst Fire Chief John McCormick told me last year! Click here to read more!) We are living in post-Ferguson times when police officers nationwide are facing increased scrutiny; similarly, today’s 3-6 Huskers are criticized, insulted and coached from couches across Nebraska.
“There’s the whole expectation that we are role models in society and we need to live up to a certain standard,” said Barrios. But the Lieutenant is also quick to point out moments like Officer Kerrie Orozco’s funeral procession, when thousands of people in the Omaha metro area lined streets in the rain to pay their respects to Orozco and law enforcement officials everywhere. People have brought food to local precincts, have posted messages showing their support and have held countless fundraisers for not just Officer Orozco and her family, but for other officers when they need it.
“That’s what makes the job a really fulfilling job and rewarding,” said Barrios. “For the right person, it’s that service mentality. We get to go out, do a job and we get a lot in return for it.”
And no matter what Nebraska’s record is, Barrios wants today’s players to know fans will be on their side. He’s one of them.
“I will stick with them no matter what,” said Barrios. “No matter who the coach was the last few years, I try to be a fan the best I can.”
Photo courtesy CoachTomOsborne.com
Barrios remembers seeing Coach Tom Osborne’s reaction when other programs around the country rolled through coaches and administration every few years.
“He was frustrated by that because he saw it’s difficult to build a program, to build up your recruits and instill your game plan and everything you’re going to do with a program,” said Barrios. “I think over time, Nebraska will be back. It’s just going to take the right fit, the right recruits, to put it all together.”
Barrios’ advice for the 2015 Huskers is the same he gave his son, ALSO a collegiate kicker. (Russell Barrios graduated from Omaha Gross and is currently playing football for the Colorado School of Mines.)
“I always talked to him about something that kickers do, keep your head down, follow through,” said Barrios. “That’s something about life. Keep your head down, stay humble, keep focused on what you’re doing and follow through. You make a commitment, you stick with it.”
Editor’s note… this advice works for working mommas as well as football players. Deep breath. Shut out the noise. Head down and focus. Follow through.
THIS WEEK.. Class of 2003, Curt Tomasevicz!