Flawless Character: 'Price'less

There's an old cliché that says sports reveals one's character.

However, in the case of multi-sport athlete Rodney Price, character was perhaps his greatest asset, and the games he played received an upgrade just from his sheer presence in uniform.

Price possessed a burning championship passion brewing deep within his soul that manifested itself on the wrestling mat, track and gridiron.

A wrestler since elementary school, Price truly excelled on the high school level with the Ossining Indians (now Riverhawks).

As one of the stars on the team, he used his lightening speed and Samson-type strength to fold his opponents like a sheet of paper stuffed in his notebook.

He circled around the mat like a predator observing its prey, then quickly moved in for the attack, sometimes ending the match before you could find a good seat in the stands to witness his greatness.

As a result, his room soon became cluttered with trophies, medals and certificates to celebrate his dominance as one of the best wrestlers in his weight class throughout Section I (school classification) in New York state.

With so much going in his favor, it was only natural for him to transfer those skills to track and football.

Born with blazing speed, he never ran competitively until his junior year in 1993.

But despite being a rookie on the track squad, he took to the sport like a seasoned veteran, leaving the opposition to read the logo on back of his shoes as he crossed the finish line in triumph.

He bolted out of the starting blocks, capturing glory in the 100, 200, 400 4x100-meter relay and the long jump.

Later that fall during his senior year, his only season on the football team, Price went from a virtual unknown amongst the coaching staff, to a key contributor, starting as a nose guard on the defensive line.

Having already established a solid reputation as an All-State wrestler, he used his low center of gravity with his arm movement to gain penetration and burst through double team blocking schemes.

Yet with so much to offer, he remained humbled by his gifts and never took himself too seriously.

That is unless it came to talking about his beloved New York Giants.

Like myself, Price was a stranger living in a strange land.

He was a transplant fan residing in unfriendly territory, but was never shy about his fanhood and was quick to engage in a witty conversation with others who slanted his team in favor of their allegiance.

Living in Rhode Island, Price was constantly fed a healthy spoonful of Patriots hysteria with every passing week of their undefeated regular season.

However, even though the experts and so-called experts picked New England to run away with the title, Price remained unfazed, calmly calling a Giants win at the end of the day.

When the dust settled from Super Bowl XLII, and the upset was fulfilled, there he stood in a crowded bar of stunned Patriots fans, whose jaws were hanging low enough to sweep the floor, making the most noise in the building as he dished out a plate of crow for the non-believers.

Sadly, on Sunday, July 13, Price passed away, ironically while playing two-hand touch football, leaving an undeniable legacy of athletic and character excellence.

He was a special teammate and I was honored to play alongside such a talented individual. But more importantly, he was an upstanding person and enduring friend, whose memory forever shines as bright as the sun.

Rest in peace to the best man and noble warrior.

Flawless athletic skills.

Flawless character.

Rory Sharrock is a sports writer for the Clayton News Daily and Henry Daily Herald. His column runs every Thursday. He can be reached at rsharrock@news-daily.com