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Michigan’s overseas trips are undoubtedly about the players bonding and sharing new experiences in what is a new land for most of them. But these trips also provide a chance for reporters to interact and share insights and stories with coaches and their better halves.

For instance, ever notice defensive coordinator Don Brown’s permanently extended pinky finger that makes him look like a proper tea drinker? I finally asked him about it with Sacre Coeur as the backdrop.

Brown said it was an injury he suffered while playing in college for Norwich University. The medical trainers pulled the joint out, taped it up, and he went back in the game. Of course he did. And clearly, it never normally healed.

At Versailles in the moments before James Ross’ proposal to his girlfriend, Omnielle Jordan, I asked Cynthia Zordich how husband, Mike, Michigan’s cornerbacks coach, proposed. It was on Exit 3 of the New Jersey Turnpike. He was heading back to camp and they were switching cars with his parents.

Speaking of weddings, Brown was 45 minutes late to his wedding. He was watching his alma mater play football. Why is that not hard to believe?

New receivers coach Jim McElwain, who now knows how to rock a beret, had never been out of the country and found the whole trip eye-opening. There was Shea Patterson emotionally discussing his immediate eligibility the day after it was made official. A day later, hearing taps played during Michigan’s ceremony at the American Cemetery in Normandy was truly one of the most heart-wrenching and emotional moments. To look around and see the players equally as moved was, well, heart-warming.

It is time to go home now and am always happy to do so. Trips like this are meant to be life-changing for the players. Turns out, they have special moments for everyone.

achengelis@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/chengelis

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