I suppose Joe Dudek was never truly famous, except in the minds of people like me, who happened to be 13 years old in December 1985, and who happened to believe that Thursday was the greatest weekday of them all, because it meant a brand-new issue of Sports Illustrated would inevitably arrive curled up in our mailbox. I mean, Dudek still has occasional brushes with something that resembles notoriety: Every so often, an old SI shows up at his house, and he autographs his photo on the cover and ships it back to some obsessive completist who no doubt attached a self-addressed stamped envelope from a hoarder’s shack in Kalamazoo. Every so often, a person will roll his granite slab of a surname about on their tongue, and they will ask, “Why does that sound so familiar?” Every so often, someone will glance down at his thick fingers and notice the AFC championship ring or the NFL alumni ring that his wife ordered for him, and they will ask him about it, and then Dudek will tell them about who he once was, for a brief period, before he came to live the rest of his life.
“I do believe that magazine cover changed my life — it motivated me to become something more,” he says. “For the rest of my life, Bo and I are going to be attached at the hip.”
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