Shared game plan Key to the journey for Leah and Kevin O’Connell


As athletes, Kevin and Leah moved in the same circles. They quickly formed a friendship, and the summer before Kevin’s senior season, the two were dating. She remembers asking him one day about his football career and if he hoped to play beyond college.

Kevin’s facial expression answered for him.

“It was almost a silly question, like, ‘Of course I want to. I don’t know if I’ll make it. It’s really hard to do,'” Leah said.

Ride the roller coaster

Fourteen years later, the loop is closed, in a way.

Leah is again seated at a cafeteria table, but this time in the Vikings training facility. Sunlight spills through the bay windows and onto her lap, where her hand rests softly, protectively, on her still unrevealed abdomen.

“We have another one on the way,” she explains with a smile.

The other three children – Kaden, 7; Quinn, 5; and Kolten, 3 – spend the morning with a babysitter.

In some ways, that first sighting of Kevin seems like yesterday; and yet, in other ways, the two have already lived a lifetime together.

“I can’t even count on two hands the number of moves, the places we’ve lived since,” laughs Leah.

There was 2008, when New England drafted Kevin in the third round as a reserve QB behind Tom Brady, and the two went out long distance while Leah completed her senior year at SDSU.

Then 2009, when Kevin found himself released by the Patriots and signed by the Lions for – check the calendar – less than a week before being traded east to the New York Jets. He spent three seasons in green and white, during which he and Leah got engaged and married within 12 months.


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