Dr. Duncan Quarless is not like most fathers. A chemistry professor at SUNY Old Westbury, Quarless will not talk to his son before a football game about strategy or a play practiced during the week. Instead Dr. Quarless spends the time in prayer for his son’s well being.
“Andrew is where he is today because of his father,” Rev. Richard Wezik of the First Baptist Church in Hempstead said. That place just happened to be Lambeau Field Thursday night receiving a 3.35 carat Superbowl championship ring for being a rookie tightend for the Green Bay Packers this past season.
But the elder Quarless “is not your typical football dad, trying to make demands on coaches or whatever,” Wezik insists. “He is just concerned about his son. You’re looking at a man who bathed his son in prayer. Everything that he did he wanted to make sure that it was being done right. If it was one thing I wish... he would just recognize the impact that his father has had in him.”
Quarless in his football career and private life has tested his father more than most sons. After being caught dealing drugs while a student at Holy Trinity High School, Quarless transferred to the Uniondale public school system. At Penn State, he was cited for underaged drinking and later received a DWI.
Still he received second chances, primarily because of the men in his life – surrogate fathers, all – as well as his own, who is thankful for the help that his son received through his life.
There was James Boglioli, the principal of Holy Trinity, who allowed Quarless a “transfer” because an expulsion would have cost him scholarships in college. “That really helped as far as colleges because if colleges knew I got kicked out, it might have been a different story,” Quarless said .
At Penn State it was his football coach, Joe Paterno, whom a 17-year old Quarless wanted to please to such an extent that he stopped drinking in order to continue to play football.
Wezik recalls that Dr. Quarless would call Paterno frequently, not to discuss football, but about Andrew’s state as a person. “Football meant nothing,” he said. “Every time that he has talked to Joe Paterno, it has been about the well-being of his son.”
Spiritually it was Wezik, the Quarless family’s pastor, who guided the family through Quarless’s substance struggles.
“They would do what any other parents do, but I really think it was that faith,” Quarless, who is going into his sophomore year with the Packers, said. “There were always prayers behind me and I’m just thankful for that.”
Wezik is quick to dismiss the sole credit for the tightend’s ability to overcome, placing it back on Dr. Quarless and wife Demovia.
“He’s got loving parents,” Wezik said. “To this day, that’s still their son. They recognize he’s a man, he’s got great accomplishments, but they have not left their parental duties.”
For that, here’s hoping that this Father’s Day Sunday, the younger Quarless gives his dad the call.