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Somebody Catch That Son of a B****!
I wasn’t a very good quarterback
We were midway through morning football practice during the 7-on-7 portion at the Shoemaker High School football field.
Coach gave me the play, I called it in the huddle, and the wide receivers and I broke the huddle. I lined up in a shotgun position and started the cadence. The ball snapped. I dropped back and fired a pass across the middle of the field to a wide receiver running a slant route. The only problem was the linebacker on defense I did not see before throwing the ball. He intercepted my pass.
This pass was my fourth interception in a row. I don’t know what I was thinking or seeing. My performance was terrible, and I knew it. As I hung my head and returned to the huddle, our head coach walked past me and told the center to toss him a football. Confused, I watched to see what our coach was doing.
After my coach retrieved the ball, he put down his play sheet and threw the ball as far as his old-man arm would allow in the opposite direction of where we were practicing. “Somebody go catch that son-of-a-bitch,” he yelled before the ball hit the ground. His exclamation captured the attention of the entire practice field as everyone turned to see what happened and why our coach was so upset.
Coach made his point to me. Anybody could throw a football, but not everyone can be a quarterback. He was tired of watching me throw the ball without intention, rhyme, or reason. In the game of football, the football is the most valued possession of the game, and I gave it away to the defense four times consecutively.
I was embarrassed, but I wouldn’t let it show. Later in the locker room, I laughed with my teammates and friends, who were half-laughing at my scorn and our coach’s anger. Outwardly I couldn’t let it show my coach got to me. But inwardly, I didn’t want to throw another football for the rest of my life.
An action like my coach’s that day could get a coach fired today. Sure, he could’ve handled his frustration differently that morning, but he didn’t. It could’ve scarred me, but I’ve let it shape me. That I can remember this encounter proves that my coach’s action left an indelible mark in my memory and remains a gift that keeps giving.
That moment helps me remember not to throw our valuables in life away without caution. It’s vital to survey where we are and consider the costs before making decisions. Understand the context. Things change. People change. Life doesn’t stand still while we make changes, so we must learn to adapt and anticipate obstacles.
For some of us, after we make the mistake of aimlessly throwing our valuables away (time, money, attention, love) can paralyze us, and we’ll want not to take another chance. It can seem safe or wise to forgo a decision, but it isn’t very reasonable. As the quarterback of your life, you can’t hold on to the ball every play and take a knee in hopes of avoiding injury or mistake. You’ll eventually lose possession. You have to let the ball go and trust your scout work, coaches, and teammates— another critical component to winning in life.
Who is on your team? Who are the people around you helping you to march the ball down the field of life? How are you supporting them? Do they have the same or similar goals as you? Do you have a coach in life that is willing to tell you honest and blunt truths about what you’re doing with your life when you’re throwing your valuables away?
After that embarrassing encounter with my coach, I didn’t think he’d let me quarterback the team for the rest of my life. That’s what it felt like at the moment, at least. But he did. Coach picked up his play sheet and marched straight to me. “You throw another interception if you want to,” he dared me with his eyes piercing through my face mask.
He gave me the play. I refocused my attention, called the play in the huddle, then approached the line of scrimmage in shotgun position again. I started my cadence, received the snap, dropped back, and rifled a pass to my receiver w running a dig route across the field. This time, however, I surveyed the surrounding defenders before I let the ball go and delivered the pass with precision directly into my receiver’s hands. I didn’t throw another interception that practice.
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