The past two weeks have been a whirlwind for Dr. Terry Oder.
Oder, of West Hartford, was at the AFC Championship game between the Baltimore Ravens and the New England Patriots with friends Jan. 22, when he became a part of sports history. He caught the football kicked by Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff, after the ball sailed left, missing the uprights and landing in the stands. A field goal would have tied the game, sending it to overtime. Instead, the miss sent the Patriots to the Super Bowl.
Oder held onto the treasured ball until Saturday, when he presented it to Patriots owner Robert Kraft in Indianapolis, the site of Super Bowl XLVI.
"It's very kind of the good doctor to be donating it to us," Kraft said. "This will go in our Hall of Fame."
The Patriots owner rewarded Oder and two of his friends with prime seats at Sunday's Super Bowl in Indianapolis.
Catching that ball in the AFC Championship was no accident, Oder feels. One of his best friends and fellow Patriots fan, Aran Patrican, died heart infection two weeks before the AFC Championship. While Patrican couldn't be at the game with him, Oder feels he was definitely there is spirit.
"That's what makes me think this was some type of divine intervention, because he was a prankster before he was a police officer. So it would be just like him to do something like make the ball miss the uprights and land in our hands," Oder said. "I can't help but also think that the spirit of Myra Kraft was involved."
Myra Kraft, wife of Robert Kraft, died of cancer in July 2011. Kraft and the Patriots have dedicated the season to her.
"People refer to this ball as the Myra ball," Kraft said. "It's the ball she either touched or helped make the wind blow left."
For Oder, returning the ball was the right thing to do. He is also using the opportunity to raise money for his late friend's 1-year-old son.
"We've set up a trust fund for him, trying to raise money through fan donations," Oder said.
In a private meeting after Oder returned the football to Kraft, the two discussed the trust fund for Patrican's son, Thomas. While Oder wouldn't discuss details of the meeting, he did say he had a wonderful experience and was very grateful to Kraft and the Patriots.