The Duncan Banner
Amid all the fan favorites and former superstars who attended last weekend’s fourth annual Celebrity Pancreatic Cancer Golf Tournament at the Duncan Golf and Tennis Club stood a former Sooners legend sharing laughs and swapping stories of his playing days with anyone and everyone around him.
Rufus Alexander relishes in those moments at the tournament each year, but it’s the event’s cause that really hits close to home.
Alexander, a standout linebacker for Oklahoma from 2003-2006 and a former All-American, can be found at the event every June with a smile a mile wide and a competitive streak that he can’t help but bring onto the course.
But Alexander knows the best part of the tournament is its cause. Having a mother who suffered from breast cancer has provided the former NFL player a deep appreciation not only from the event’s camaraderie and competition, but the research and hope for cancer victims that it creates.
“It’s always great to come back here for an awesome cause, helping with finding research for cancer and providing kids scholarships,” Alexander said. “My mom had cancer, and just trying to find something that can help with a cure for something that’s so deadly is special.”
The two-time First Team All-Big 12 player has been there from the start, as he got a call from event organizer Jim Edwards when the tournament was first being created. All along, showing up was a no brainer
“Jim called me that first year and it’s something I knew I wanted to do right away,” Alexander said. “I always return because I love to give back, have that camaraderie with new people I meet, interact with fans and people affected by cancer.”
As someone who is still recognized for his playing days in Norman, Alexander knows attending the event provides him with a unique experience on the course.
“You meet people who came to OU football games, who immediately recognize you and know you played football at a high level,” Alexander said. “That helps you get that interation you don’t get to typically here with people. I love being able to get others’ perspective and their thoughts on different aspects of life.”
He last played football with the Detroit Lions in 2009, but the memories and experiences from acheiving his life long goal of playing in the NFL still ring true for Alexander.
“It’s nothing like anything else you can ever feel. I got the chance to play with the Adrian Petersons, Mark Claytons and Tommie Harris [three NFL players] of the world, guys who became superstarts,” Alexander said. “There’s a different kind of bond between guys who played at OU. You’re forever tied to each other because you know what it’s like to wear the jersey and be a part of something special.”
Now working in pharmaceutical sales, Alexander’s focus is now on raising a family, and a son that he hopes could one day also go to OU.
“He may be a linebacker, but I’m training him to be a running back with a linebacker’s mentality,” Alexander said. “I work for my kid now. I lived out my dream and now it’s all about instilling the same principles in my son as I grew up with.”