By Joe Scalzo
A little more than a week ago, Mike McGlynn’s wife, Megan, was watching the local news in Indianapolis when she saw a news story about a local school teacher whose minivan was robbed while she made her final Black Friday stop at Menard’s.
The teacher, a mother of three named Lori Diehl, had bought about $500 in Christmas presents with gift cards that had been donated from people in her church. Diehl’s husband, a schoolteacher named Matthew, has been battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Diehl, meanwhile, had been on maternity leave. Money had been tight.
“She said she almost felt like she had let the family down,” said McGlynn, a Fitch High graduate who plays guard for the Indianapolis Colts. “When my wife brought the story to my attention, she was like, ‘We’ve gotta do something.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, no doubt.’”
So McGlynn got in touch with Diehl and gave her $1,000, which more than covered the cost of the gifts. He also called her from the locker room after the Colts’ win over Buffalo last Sunday and spoke to her 31/2-year-old son, Brayden.
“He [Brayden] was over-the-moon excited,” Diehl told the Indianapolis Star. “[McGlynn] truly was wonderful. We were just amazed. He was exceedingly generous.”
The story of McGlynn’s generosity first hit the local media, then quickly spread thanks to Twitter and Facebook.
He said the response has floored him.
“Some of it has almost brought tears to my eyes,” said McGlynn, who has a daughter, Sydney, and a son, Cole, with his wife. “Just the things I’ve gone through with my own family members with cancer and such, I just feel very fortunate I’m in a position where I can help someone.
“My thing is, everybody works for what they have. Everything is hard in this world. And when something is taken away, it isn’t right. Especially when it’s Christmas presents you bought for your children. It’s been a trying year for her and her family, and I was really happy my wife and I could do something.”
McGlynn is in the middle of one of the best years of his career. After a three-year stint in Philadelphia and one year in Cincinnati, the former fourth-round pick signed with the Colts (7-4) in the offseason and has started all 11 games for one of the league’s most surprising teams.
McGlynn said the team has rallied around head coach Chuck Pagano, who has missed most of this season while undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia. (It is in complete remission.)
“When you have a team playing for more than individual success, and playing for a goal that’s bigger than wins and losses, you have a special team,” McGlynn said. “Coach Pagano, he’s the best leader of men I’ve ever been around.
“He’s fighting every day and that means a lot to all of us. I have more respect for him than any coach I’ve ever played for. He always shoots straight, he’s not going to B.S. you, and he preaches family.”
In the final practice before the win over Buffalo, McGlynn turned to teammate Tom Zbikowski and said, “I’ve never felt this way before playing football.”
“I think I know what you mean,” Zbikowski told him.
McGlynn appeared in just three games as a rookie in 2008 and didn’t see any action the following year, but when the Eagles’ starting center went down in 2010, he made 14 starts and appeared in 16 games for a playoff team.
He was released after the 2011 training camp and was picked up by the Bengals, playing in seven games with four starts.
In March, he signed a two-year contract with the Colts, who have rebounded from last year’s 2-14 mark and would earn the AFC’s first wild card if the season ended today.
“A lot of people were talking about rebuilding this year but for me, it was an opportunity to establish myself,” McGlynn said. “I had an opportunity in Philadelphia, and I played well, and they made changes there and shipped me out.
“And you know what? I kept my head up and landed here, and it’s turned out to be such a blessing. Hopefully, I can end my career here. I’m happy to end up with a first-class organization that is caring and built the right way.”