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Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., right, arrives at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 20, 2009, for the swearing-in of President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President-elect Joe Biden. (AP Photo/Ron Edmonds)

As others see it: Thanks, Sen. Kennedy

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opinion Worthington, 56187
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

The name Edward "Ted" Kennedy might have meant something completely different.

As news shows announced the Democratic senator's death Wednesday, CNN's sports commentator Rafer Weigel reported that when he was attending Harvard, Kennedy was told by the head of the Green Bay Packers that he might have a future in pro football.

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Kennedy's performance on Harvard's football team was good enough to prompt the remark.

Kennedy politely explained that he planned to go to law school and enter "another contact sport: politics."

As a senator, Kennedy championed such causes as health care, immigration, education and civil rights.

And, as would have happened if he'd entered that other contact sport, Kennedy gained admirers and detractors. ...

Like many an athlete and politician, he also lived his life in public with sometimes tragic results.

The whole country knew when his 12-year-old son lost a leg to cancer, when he and his wife of 22 years divorced and, of course, when he drove off a bridge on Chappaquiddick Island, causing the death of his passenger.

Chappaquiddick seemed to mark the beginning of a difficult period in Kennedy's life. He developed a reputation as a heavy drinker and skirt chaser.

But Chappaquiddick also helped free him of his own national ambitions and, once he overcame his demons, Kennedy developed a reputation as a hard-working, effective lawmaker who could work both sides of the aisle to get results.

His accomplishments include the Americans with Disabilities Act, Meals on Wheels, family leave and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Not everyone appreciates or agrees with what he accomplished -- just as they might not have liked him if he had joined the Packers -- but his dedication and service to the county demands that we recognize his passing.

Thank you, Sen. Kennedy.

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