Since former Iowa State quarterback Steele Jantz left Ames, he has been a difficult man to find, to say the least.
Cyclone Nation has a special place in its heart for Jantz. This is the man who led Iowa State to victory in a triple overtime thriller over the hated Iowa Hawkeyes. It very well could be the greatest performance in Cy-Hawk history. But after his last game in 2012, Jantz decided to it was time to disappear. He left society without any notice.
Even real journalists within Cyclone Nation have been looking for him...unsuccessfully.
When Steele Jantz wakes up in the morning, he pisses excellence— Chris Williams (@ChrisMWilliams) February 13, 2016
@rachtodd1 that's a loaded question......technically no— Chris Williams (@ChrisMWilliams) February 13, 2016
An enigma, this man is.
But I have also been among those in Cyclone Nation who have been silently looking for Mr. Jantz. Being the modern man I am, I first reached out via electronic means... Email, Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Even if he did use these modern forms of communication at one point (which I now highly question), he's definitely long abandoned them.
Next, I decided it was time to try to be a real journalist. Based on my Twitter following, I am most definitely not a real journalist, but for such a story I knew I must persevere. Since efforts via digital means of communication were futile, I had to go back to our roots—college.
As an alum who shared the campus with Jantz during my days as a student, I had a few connections. One former friend led to another, which led to a former teammate, then to a former classmate, then to a former lover, and so on. No one seemed to be sure. Every time one of these sources thought they knew where he was, I would write a letter to that location. But to my dismay, most would come back to me. The others lost adrift and most likely never opened.
But there was one letter that came back to me that was special. It was in the original envelope I sent, but multiple addresses had been crossed off and rewritten, always including the extra stamp. The fourth and last address on the now-tattered envelope had my return address crudely written on it. The entire letter was handwritten in pencil (transcribed below). It was titled, Life is But a Dream.
This is the story of Steele Jantz, as only he could tell it.
Life is But a Dream
First of all, congrats on finding me. I have been off the grid for quite some time now... I have lost all track of time. I am not sure how long I have even been away from society. I feel like it could be 3 months or 3 years... I honestly don't know.
Secondly, thank you. When this letter arrived at the base of my tree loft, I first thought it was litter and I was disgusted. I have recently become one with nature, and nature has become one with me. I now find the act of littering to be one of the most despicable crimes against Mother Earth. But I digress. When I picked up this torn up envelope, I noticed something I haven't seen or heard in a long time: my name. You see, I don't have much human interaction anymore. The occasional passerby on my journeys from place to place is all, really. But when this letter found me, I knew the universe was calling. I had to write back and let the world know what I have been doing. So here goes.
From very early on at my time at Iowa State, I truly believed I had the talent and ability to make the NFL. So when it was time for me to leave Iowa State, I wanted to prepare myself. I tried to disappear and focus solely on working out and on my game. I took all the money I had and bought a bus ticket to northern Minnesota. I hiked into the woods until I found what was the most beautiful piece of land I've ever seen. A small lake in the middle of the forest...with no sign of human activity. This is where I would make my home for the summer. I built a small cabin, swam lap after lap in Steele Lake, and threw thousands of passes a day though a makeshift ring made of branches. This is where I learned to live off the land.
My first instinct was to hunt and fish for small game. The fishing was always good, as Steele Lake was blessed with many, bountiful fish. I ate the fish raw and liked my meat rare. But after several weeks (or months?) of living off of walleye, squirrel, and the occasional snake, I started having this recurring dream. Each night after I drifted asleep, I would dream that whatever kind of animal I had eaten earlier, would then chase me endlessly. And it wasn't the cute, cuddly version I had eaten earlier. There were always hundreds of terrible-looking creatures after me. As fast as I ran or swam, I could never get away. They just kept gaining on me and gaining on me. It was terrifying. Then, at the moment they would catch me, I would wake up and and immediately vomit.
Then one chilly evening deep in the Minnesota timber, I decided to try something different. I was exhausted from these nightmares and puking every night. I came across some mushrooms. I ate a whole mess of those delicious fungi. And on my way home, I had an experience that will change me forever. Mother Nature came alive that night. I understood everything. Every animal I killed and ate had their own life and family. I was ruining the ecosystem of where I had made my home. The animal spirits were trying to tell me all along in the dreams and with the vomiting. It all made sense now. Life came into my dreams and awakened me about the workings of the universe. Life is But a Dream.
At the end of the summer, I went to try out for the Minnesota Vikings. By this time I had lost 60 pounds and was in the best shape of my life. But they wouldn't even let me into the facility. They said, "Go see a doctor." and "Are you okay?" and "Football is the last thing that should be on your mind, son." I didn't get it. I thought I was at my peak physical and mental form. But to these decision makers, I was not. It was time to move on to my next home.
I then went from place to place, living off the land and working on my game. I went to the swamps of southern Florida, to the pines of Georgia, and to the deserts of Arizona. After what felt like months (years?) of training and eating mushrooms, berries and peyote, I would go to every local NFL team...only to be turned away. It is all a blur, really. A dream.
But the big question still hasn't been answered. Where am I now? I don't know. I think I'm still in Canada, but it very well could be Alaska...there seem to be more bears. I'm hopeful that my talents will be needed in the CFL once I find where these teams actually are. And to be honest, I don't want me or anyone else knowing where I am. I can't have anyone coming to find me while I continue on my personal and professional journey. I still work out all the time though. I mostly run up various mountains and throw footballs off of them to see how far they go.
Unfortunately, the dreams have sporadically returned. I actually don't really know what is real and what is my subconscious anymore. Time is a flat circle. Life is But a Dream.