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Cardinals LB Jesse Luketa has flat tire on way to game; fans give him lift

Jesse Luketa

A flat tire almost blocked Arizona Cardinals linebacker Jesse Luketa from getting to Sunday’s game. But the Red Sea came through.

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Luketa was supposed to get to State Farm Stadium by noon, but after leaving the team hotel with plenty of time normally, he was stuck at a gas station in North Phoenix, KSAZ reported

He had pulled over after his 2019 BMW’s indicator light came on. It was something that he said he had dealt with before. There was a problem with the front left tire, but instead of just being low, the pressure continued to drop. Trying to fill the tire with air didn’t turn off the light, so he figured that he had run over a nail, The Athletic reported.

Luketa could have just put a spare tire on, but the BMW didn’t have one. The team offered to pick him up but he would not have made it to the stadium by the deadline.

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Luckily, a quick glance at the pumps showed there was a man pumping gas wearing a Cardinals’ jersey. The man’s three kids also had Cardinals gear. Hoping the family was heading to the stadium for the game, either to watch in person or at least have a tailgate, he asked for a lift.

The man pumping gas, J.W. Phillips, was on his way to the game to watch his son, Brody, play flag football on the field during halftime. They were running late. It was a good thing too.

The Athletic reported that Luketa said he told Philips, “I’m a player. I got a flat tire. Can you guys help me out? I need a ride to the stadium.”

After a short discussion between husband and wife, Phillips said to hop in, and off they went on the 45-minute drive to the stadium, chatting about Thanksgiving.

“He is just the nicest human being,” Phillips said, according to The Athletic. “The kids were giving fantasy football updates and who scored. They asked him how he went to college and where he played. We talked about how he’s from Canada. … About his family. He’s just very genuine and sincere.”

Luketa, whose account on X (formerly known as Twitter) is @OttawasVeryOwn, grew up in Ottawa but went to Mercyhurst Prep in Erie, Pennsylvania, before attending college at Penn State, majoring in criminology. He was drafted in the 2022 NFL Draft, 256th overall, according to the Cardinals’ website.

After the events of the day, Luketa talked about what happened in the post-game press conference on Monday and posted to social media that “Good people still exist!”

They got to the stadium with about eight minutes to spare. Luketa gave the family his parking pass and arranged for “friends and family access.”

The family met up with him after the loss to the Los Angeles Rams, where he posed for a photo, The Athletic reported.

“Honestly, at the end of the day, we were just trying to help somebody out. It wasn’t the fact that he played football, or didn’t, or whatever it was. We were just truly trying to help somebody out,” Philips told AZ Family.

KSAZ reported Luketa also hopes to get them tickets for the team’s Dec. 17 game against the San Francisco 49ers.

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