As Pat Angerer says, teammates never stop being there for each other.
Sure, his motto applies to playing football.
Like when the top recruit from Bettendorf High School wasn't performing up to expectations in his third year at Iowa, Brett Greenwood — a Hawkeyes walk-on and former rival from Pleasant Valley High School — pushed Angerer to be better.
“Brett came in right away and did things the right way where it took me a little bit to mature,” Angerer said. “As soon as I started acting like him and preparing like he would prepare, that's when I started to find success.”
Even though Greenwood was a year younger, “I looked up to him,” Angerer said. “He kind of showed me the way.”
Soon, Angerer learned something about his motto: It also applies off of the football field.
On Sept. 9, 2011, Greenwood’s heart stopped during a routine workout at his former high school's stadium. His brain was denied oxygen and once hospitalized, he was placed into a coma.
When he woke up, Greenwood couldn't walk or see or talk. He had to relearn almost everything.
“At the beginning, it’s like being a newborn,” his mother, Michele Greenwood, said. “He had short term memory issues. Every few seconds, he couldn’t tell you where he was.”
Over the next two years, Greenwood went to weekly physical therapy sessions. He got a little better. And then he hit a plateau.
That's when, in 2013, Greenwood’s physical therapist, Matt Rokes, called Angerer, who had recently retired from the Indianapolis Colts and moved back to Bettendorf.
Angerer showed up to a physical therapy appointment. And he has showed up to every appointment since.
Michele Greenwood says that's just what her son needed, a teammate to be there.
“It’s someone Brett knew and trusted,” she said. “The way that they are around each other — the camaraderie — he responds to that.”
“I'd like to think Brett helped him, too. Football is their whole life. When they retire, it’s like what do I do next?”
Angerer said it gave him something to do and more: A purpose.
“When you're done playing, you're not part of a team anymore,” he said. “It's helped me deal with being done playing. Being with Brett and those guys, you're a part of something that's bigger than you.”
With help from Rokes, Angerer and Joe Conklin, another Iowa teammate and graduate of Assumption High School, Greenwood got stronger.
“It was phenomenal,” Michele Greenwood said. “It's been huge for his recovery.”
In September 2015, Greenwood was strong enough to march, with a walker, across Kinnick Stadium, with Angerer alongside him, as the Hawkeyes’ honorary captain during a game against the Pittsburgh Panthers.
The two will march together as grand marshals on Tuesday during the Fourth of July parade in Bettendorf. It happens to be Greenwood’s favorite holiday.
“It's an honor to share that with Brett,” Angerer said.
“Just being able to be around him and see him fight every day and achieve what doctors and experts said he wouldn't be able to, is pretty awesome,” he said. “It's great to be around someone who keeps beating the odds and keeps fighting and keeps moving forward.”
Each day, Greenwood, now 29, does something better, Angerer said. He's close to walking without a walker, his memory is better and he can communicate more.
“He's a guy you can't really put limits on,” Angerer said. “He was a walk-on from Pleasant Valley, Iowa, and he became a four-year starter. The odds of doing that are not real high. And he's done it. He's tough and stubborn.”
He and Michele Greenwood agree: Brett is a fighter.
“For someone who wasn’t supposed to make it, he’s come so far,” his mother said. “Sometimes you think, ‘How do you do it?’ You just do it. He does everything in his power to get better.”
She's thankful that Greenwood has people fighting right next to him.
“That's what teammates do; that's what we're taught at Iowa,” Angerer said. “It's not just about your four years there, it's about the rest of your life. If the same thing happened to me, I know they'd do the same thing.”