MOORESVILLE – Susan Sweezy’s prediction might’ve seemed far-fetched, but it was captured on film.
Last summer, when her daughter Madison was converting some family VHS tapes to compact discs, she said “Mom, you’ve got to come see this.” There was Susan Sweezy, holding her infant son, telling the camera he’s going to be a professional football player someday.
“He was a big ol’ baby,” she said this week, laughing.
Turns out clairvoyant mom was right 24 years ago. Her son, J.R. Sweezy, grew to be a strapping young man who on Feb. 2 will play in the biggest football game on the planet. Sweezy, a Mooresville native, is the starting right guard for the Seattle Seahawks, who’ll play the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII at 6:30 p.m.
Sweezy is concluding his second season in the NFL in whirlwind fashion. He’s in the playoffs for the second time. There’s also the two weeks of hoopla building up to the Super Bowl, which involves a cross-country flight to play in East Rutherford, N.J.
A gang of Sweezys is headed to the game – mom Susan, dad Bryan, sister Madison, some grandparents and Sweezy’s girlfriend, who lives in Seattle.
“I haven’t talked to J.R. too much since the (NFC Championship) game against San Francisco because things have been crazy for all of us,” Susan Sweezy said. “But he did tell me `I don’t think it’s hit me yet.’ I saw him on TV get off the plane (in New York) and texted him. He’s very excited. I just told him I hope this week is what you’ve hoped and dreamed of since you were a little boy.”
Sweezy was an all-conference linebacker at Mooresville High and was a state champion wrestler. He graduated in 2007 and signed a football scholarship with N.C. State, where he played defensive tackle.
In 2012, the Seahawks picked him in the seventh round of the NFL Draft. He was the 225th of 253 players picked. Then, Seattle officials threw Sweezy a shocker. We’re moving you to offensive tackle.
It’s rare that players change positions so drastically on the college level, much less as a rookie pro. But Sweezy, 6-foot-5 and 298 pounds, jumped into the offseason workouts and started in his first NFL game (the 2012 opener). He started the final two regular-season games and both playoff games last year. This season he started 15 games.
“Sometimes my husband and I will be watching him play on TV and just say `Can you believe this is happening?” Susan Sweezy said. “J.R. has an unbelievable work ethic and drive. He’s had to in order to have gotten this far.”
Sweezy is a hot topic at Mooresville High. Coaches point to him preaching that hard work pays off. Current players see evidence that a Blue Devil can reach football’s pinnacle.
“He told me a few days ago `Mom, this is unbelievable,” Susan Sweezy said. “I told him I was proud not only because you’re living out your dream, but it’s our dream for you, too. It’s rare that your child gets to do that.”