Following a recent little league flag football game my 10-year-old son Jonathan was sobbing because he was permanently replaced as the team’s quarterback.
“I’m going to quit,” he told me. “The coach doesn’t want me to play quarterback anymore. It’s not fair. He now wants his son to be the quarterback because he’s his son and he’s taller than me.”
Now, I’m not trying to sound like the blindly loyal dad here but Jonathan was right. He had barely re-enrolled following a successful 8-3 season as the team’s quarterback when the coach decided out of the blue to convert his talented wide receiver son from wide receiver to quarterback. The coach’s son is a couple years older, taller and stronger than Jonathan but my boy has the touch of a true passer, a great command of the game and leadership skills. The 8-3 record he posted during the previous season is also actually quite good.
So Jonathan had a legitimate case for feeling crushed. I was too. I’m so passionate about football, particularly for my NFL team the Miami Dolphins, that I took my son’s pain especially hard. Still, I’m no fool. You don’t ever win an argument with a coach about him favoring his son. To quote from one of my favorite movies of all time, “Babe”, that’s “the way things are.”
The best I could do was to use this situation as an opportunity to teach Mr. Aspiring Quarterback a trick about life changes, the truth about movie sequels and other things that we grow up thinking will end up being similar, if not the same as the one before it but never are.
“Every NFL season is different,” I said to Jonathan. “Sometimes your team makes it to the playoffs, like the Dolphins did two seasons ago and sometimes, like last year, they don’t. Sometimes you’ll be the quarterback and sometimes you’ll be playing another role in the team. What matters most is that you play the game, you try your best and that finish what you start. The trick you need to remember here is that EVERY NFL season is different. Nothing is ever the same as the time before it.”
Saturday Jonathan goes back to the field for his next game and he doesn’t know where the coach will line him up but we’ve got this lesson down pat. Every NFL Season is Different.