- Adam Rittenberg, College Football
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The path to public office can be a painful one. Just ask UCLA sophomore Danny Siegel.
As voting opened Monday afternoon for UCLA's new student government officers, Siegel walked around campus with a giant welt on his arm, but also a surge in popularity. It's a trade many politicians would make.
Siegel's no-pain-no-gain campaign for a general representative position received a boost Monday after a video went viral of UCLA All-Pac-12 linebacker Myles Jack leveling him on the practice field. Jack, who is in the same fraternity as Siegel, agreed to "help" his frat brother last week following a Bruins spring practice.
"We were thinking about how to publicize my campaign and do something memorable," Siegel told ESPN.com on Monday. "My roommate said, 'Why don’t you talk to Myles and get laid out by him. People would like that.'
"I guess I’m a glutton for punishment."
The initial inspiration had been a YouTube clip where a man paid mixed martial arts star Kimbo Slice $100 to punch him. Siegel watched the video the morning of his showdown with Jack and feared for his collarbone.
He met Jack and one of UCLA's equipment staffers after practice to get fitted with a helmet and shoulder pads. Jack first asked Siegel, who checks in at 5-foot-8 and 160 pounds, if he had any Advil or Tylenol nearby. Some of UCLA's NFL draft hopefuls, including quarterback Brett Hundley and linebacker Eric Kendricks, came over to watch.
Siegel's football experience had been of the flag variety, back in seventh grade.
"I was terrible," he said.
They conducted two test runs and both times, Siegel landed somewhat comfortably on a large blue cushioned mat.
"I was scared s---less, I’ll be honest," Siegel said. "Just me catching the ball was an event in itself. They were telling me, 'Just don’t look at Myles. You won’t be as tense.' I said to myself, 'Just catch the football, don’t look at Myles.'"
Siegel prepared for a third rehearsal, but one of his friends gave Jack the green light. Needless to say, it didn't go well for Siegel, as the 6-1, 232-pound Jack sent him flying beyond the mat and onto the grass. He had alligator arms and missed the ball. Then again, could you blame him?
Jack then approached the camera, saying, "If this guy can take a hit from me, he can definitely be your next gen rep."
"I had to get my bearings, like what just happened?" Siegel said. "He came back over me and said, 'Are you OK?'"
Fortunately, Siegel broke no bones and quickly became a campus celebrity. He's a huge UCLA sports fan, and one of his campaign platforms is holding watch parties for UCLA football road games inside Pauley Pavilion, like they do at Big Ten and SEC schools.
"It's been really awesome on campus," said Siegel, a political science major from Long Beach, California. "Random people are coming up to me and saying are you that guy who got tackled by Myles Jack."
As for the experience?
"It was awesome," he said. "Totally a thrill."
Voting runs until Friday afternoon. Asked what he would do for his next political stunt, Siegel could turn to UCLA's basketball team.
"Maybe someone can dunk me," he said.
UCLA student government candidate Danny Siegel takes hit from Bruins LB Myles Jack as part of campaign ad.