October 4, 2006

Born to Hit

It was the Connor brothers' responsibility to share the American culture with Sean Broom, a French exchange student who briefly made the Connor residence in Wallingford, Pa., his home 15 years ago.

Natural instincts told Jim, Mike and Dan Connor to take Broom into the backyard and introduce him to what defined their lives at such an early age: football. Mike will never forget a move the then four-year-old Dan put on nine-year-old Broom that day.

"We were out there playing tackle football and this guy wasn't too big of a football fan," Mike said. "This kid was running up the sideline, running with the ball like it was a loaf of bread and Dan just flattens him; I mean really hit him hard. I heard Sean telling his mother that he wanted to go home and didn't want to hang around Dan anymore."

Broom forgave Dan and eventually grew to love football, and Dan, well, he continued to amaze people with his natural athletic ability.

As a first-grader in a youth flag football league, Dan only carried the ball on fourth down. After all, the other kids needed a chance and Dan was sure to end the offensive drive with a touchdown every time he got his hands on the ball.

There were times, however, when Dan's father, Jim, peered through the window and thought his youngest of three sons just didn't have it. Oldest sons Jim, 26, and Mike, 24, were always in the backyard playing intense games of football and Dan was always clowning around.

"The other two were always very serious about sports their whole life," Jim said. "They would dress Dan up and try to teach him stuff and he just wasn't always into it. I said, 'I don't know if Dan really has it.' He was always clowning around."

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