On Oct. 6, the Green Bay Packers promoted rookie defensive tackle Tyler Lancaster from the practice squad. The timing – during the first week of the NFL’s annual “Crucial Catch” campaign – was fitting.
In January, Lancaster’s father, Brad, died of oral cancer.
“Always in the back of my head, this was the goal and this is what he wanted to see real badly,” Lancaster said. “I keep this card right here (a baseball card-like photo of his father that he keeps on the top shelf of his locker) and see it every day just to keep him with me. I know for a fact that he’s freaking out. Man, I can’t even describe it. This is exactly what he wanted to see for so many years. To see it come true, there’s no words for it.”
Lancaster started 39 games during his final three seasons at Northwestern. Before the Wildcats’ bowl game to cap the 2016 season, Brad Lancaster complained or soreness in his mouth. Ultimately, the devastating diagnosis was a malignant tumor.
The thought of his dad, who went through countless radiation sessions, had his jawbone removed and required a feeding tube, weighed on Lancaster heavily throughout his senior season.
“Support. A lot of support, especially from teammates, my coaches and the community around my parents’ house,” Lancaster said when asked how he got through the year. “We grew up in a really good neighborhood, so they were always there for us. Northwestern, the football team after he passed (on Jan. 25), they all drove down and came to the memorial. We filled the room with all these chairs with all these massive football guys and our neighbors. Just the overwhelming support, that’s what got me through it. Also, it’s using him for motivation. Getting through the football season, if I’m going through a tough practice, I’m not experiencing anything that he’s experiencing. This is nothing compared to that. He was real motivation. It took a lot of support and having a good community. With any football team, especially this one, the amount of support that the guys give you, that’ll help you through anything.”