Although the Super Bowl is thousands of miles away, one Kalispell man feels a little closer to the action.
"I just got to get back to a 100%, you know, show them that my shoulder is durable and can hold up taking a beating every Sunday," explained former professional football player Lex Hilliard.
A broken scapula took Hilliard out of the game with the New York Jets and brought him back home to the Flathead. He owns Montana Trade and Pawn and has kept pretty busy coaching his own son's football team. He wasn't planning on it. He was actually planning to move his family out to New York before he got hurt, but when he knew he'd be staying in the Valley and wanted to sign his son up for football, Kalispell's Parks and Recreation Department said they needed more coaches, so he volunteered.
Watching his son from the sidelines has been a nice, new experience. He says he coached an almost perfect season, tying the last game, which was lucky since many of the kids on the two teams went to the same school. So no one got bragging rights the next day.
Hilliard still admits, though, that he misses being on the field himself.
"My attitudes good and I'm going to put all the effort in to getting back on the field so all I can do is control those two things," said Hilliard.
Although he's trying to get back in fighting form, being home has had its advantages.
"Even Christmas, you know, I was able to be home and be around the family. Usually I'm in a hotel room," said Hilliard.
Being home also has its downside.
"Guys will call me up 'hey, man you using your tickets this week?' You're like no, man I'm in Montana; it's an eight-hour plane ride," said Hilliard.
Sometimes he has to take that sixteen-hour round trip to New York for a check-up, but usually he's working five days a week at Flathead Orthopedic Rehab to get back to 100%. Hilliard says he's lucky to have made it this far in his career without a major injury and there's no way of knowing if he'll play professionally again.
Hilliard has two boys that play football.
The one he didn't coach plays for a middle school team.