Throwback Thursday: My Brother’s Keeper
LARAMIE – Ben Wisdorf was trotting off the field to more than 23,000-plus, clapping and cheering in approval for what the Cowboys had just done to the Rebels over the first 30 minutes of play in Saturday night’s game.
The Cowboys senior linebacker was soaking in the moment. That’s what you do anytime you step foot in this stadium. Especially when you’re a Wyoming native.
Before he could get to the locker room, head coach Craig Bohl stopped him dead in his tracks.
“He told me to stand here for a little bit,” Wisdorf said, adding that he was perplexed about what was going on. “I knew something was up.”
The voice over the loudspeakers all but confirmed his suspicions.
“Ben Wisdorf, please turn your attention to the video board.”
There, his brother, Jordan Wisdorf appeared.
Ben’s eyes began to well up.
The hair on his arms rose. His neck was next.
Ben pounded his heart, tapped his helmet and pointed straight ahead and mouthed the words, “I love you.” He blew his brother a kiss and headed toward his teammates.
“It gave me goosebumps,” Wisdorf said. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t holding back tears.
"Ready to get him back. It's been a long time."
He thought the crowd inside War Memorial Stadium was roaring before. This was at a different level.
Jordan is a Blackhawk Crew Chief in the United States Army. His job is to lead Medevac Helicopters into war zones. Saturday’s message was taped and delivered from the high deserts of Afghanistan where he has been stationed since early January.
It was Military Appreciation Day at the stadium. No one was more appreciative than Ben.
“During the first half, I would look up at the screen and see the soldiers saying stuff,” he said. “I’d be lying if there wasn’t a little part of me that said, ‘I hope Jordan goes up on there.’
"I thought that would be pretty cool.”
Though he is more than 7,000 miles away, Jordan said Tuesday night that he is tuned in to Pokes football any chance he gets. Whether it’s over internet radio, a game replay online or his family sending him highlights vis cell phone, Jordan said it serves as the highlight of his week.
When Wyoming opened with Missouri, Jordan said he was on a mission. He had no clue what was going on in Laramie or the fact that his brother forced a fumble at the goal line that kept the Tigers out of the end zone and tacked on three more points for the underdogs.
“I really didn’t expect them to win like I’m sure most people didn’t,” Jordan laughed. “It wasn’t until our replacements showed up and one of my friends told me of how Wyoming had a great game. He also told me my brother had a great hit and caused a fumble. It wasn’t until I got back to a bigger base and was able to connect to Wi-Fi when I got to watch the highlights and was able to see him knock the ball loose on a huge goal-line play.”
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Jordan said watching his little brother play in that stadium is special for him, too. He recalled the 4A state championship game during Ben’s junior season. The year was 2013 and Cheyenne East was taking on Natrona County in Laramie.
That game featured the who’s who of Wyoming high school football talent.
East’s quarterback was Tevis Barlett, who went on to play linebacker at the University of Washington and now wrestles for Wyoming. The Mustangs lined up future University of Florida and current Jacksonville Jaguar defensive lineman, Taven Bryan. A couple of guys named Logan Wilson and Josh Harshman also suited up for NC that night.
With all that star power on one field, it was Wisdorf that made the biggest play of the night.
“He was able to get an interception to clinch his team the win and everyone stormed the field,” Jordan recalled. “So, now watching him play regularly at War Memorial is really cool. He has so much drive and he always puts 110-percent in everything he does, whether it’s football or school, or really anything he sets his mind to.”
Nearly six years later, Ben, in a Cowboys’ uniform, stands in the north end zone with his eyes peeled on his big brother.
He joked that Jordan is the guy who made him tough. Ben called it a “love-hate relationship” growing up. The bumps and bruises along the way helped teach Ben how to “be a man.” Now, he considers Jordan, six years his senior, his best friend.
Ben said they try to talk every week, but with elections going on in the middle east, communication hasn’t been as consistent. When Jordan goes on missions, Ben said the family won’t hear from him for weeks at a time.
Those are the hard times.
“It definitely isn’t fun having a brother – a close brother, at that – being deployed,” Ben said.
It has also taught him the value of what is really happening in the world.
“Doing behind-the-scenes work that people don’t appreciate as much on a day-to-day basis, it’s pretty easy to fall into daily routines here and take for granted what we have,” Ben said. “It opened my eyes, at least when my brother left. I’m sure he misses all the things we are able to have here, but because of him and people like him, we are protected, have our freedoms and don’t have to deal with half the stuff that side of the world does.”
Jordan has a 3-year-old daughter at home in Cheyenne. He also recently found out that he was accepted into pilot school when he gets back. Jordan said he has Nov. 30 circled on his calendar. That day, the Cowboys will take on Air Force in Colorado Springs.
Jordan has every intention of being in the stands to watch his little brother’s final collegiate game.
Though their journeys are much different, Ben pointed to one meaningful subject that binds the brothers – Wyoming.
It’s not just their home state, it’s an attitude.
Jordan wanted to do big things in the military. Ben looked up to Wyoming football players growing up, calling them “God like.” It was his dream to wear brown and gold.
Nothing was getting in the way of that.
“It’s a testament to the character of this state,” Ben said about why he decided to come to UW as a walk-on and not accept a scholarship at a smaller school. “It’s about the hard-working man, and the people who get overlooked. All we need is a shot. Give us a shot and watch out because we could make the most of it.”
* This story was originally published in October of 2019.
University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players
- University of Wyoming’s Top 50 Football Players