I really hate it when people use sports as a metaphor for life so I’m not going to do that. Instead, I’m going to talk about two tough young men and what I have learned from them. They just both HAPPEN to be football players, both quarterbacks for the University of Louisville.
Will Stein is a senior who started for the Cardinals at the beginning of last season. He came to UofL as a walk-on and had to earn both a scholarship and a position as a starter. When he was injured last season, freshman Teddy Bridgewater took over and Will didn’t get another start–until Thursday, November 29, against Rutgers. He started only because Teddy had a broken wrist on his throwing hand and a sprained ankle. Now, I’m not one of those football fans who believe players should shake off injuries and play through pain, but Teddy’s injuries weren’t life threatening. He just couldn’t move or use take a snap under center–both challenges for a quarterback.
However, Will wasn’t getting the job done so Teddy came in. The most impressive play was when the Cardinals were close to the end zone. Teddy looked ahead and had a wide-open path to the end zone but he couldn’t run. I could read the yearning in his posture. He hobbled a few steps forward then shuffled the ball ahead to a player who made that final and winning touchdown. What did I learn? To recognize your weaknesses and find another way to do the job.
But I learned an even greater lessons from Will. He was pulled but when the Cardinals had a third down, he was called in because Teddy couldn’t run. Seven times, Will took the snap, rolled out to the right, and made the first down. Then he trotted off the field and left the glory for Teddy.
Will is known for his positive attitude. He’s called Sunny Will. Early in the game, Will took the ball on third down, ran for the first but misjudged and slid before he reached the marker. The coach called a time out, furious. After listening to the coach, Will smiled and said, “It’s okay,” At least, I assume that’s what he said as he patted the coach’s shoulder. Then Will went back in the game, and–on fourth down–made that final yard to keep the drive going.
What did I learn from Will? Keep smiling, stay calm, and do the job.