Read Part 1 of this series
with an obvious ending here!
I had to throw the ball better. I worked on tightening the spiral of the football and being aware of when it left my hand—if I let it go too soon, the ball would go over the receiver’s head; if I let it go too late, the throw was too low.
The hardest part was learning the footwork and having to remember what 10 other dudes were doing in a given play. Plus, I had no experience whatsoever; I got flustered too easily; and it was frustrating and disheartening to be the guy always messing up and being screamed at. On top of that, I was the only lefty in our little QB group, so I had to learn how to do some aspects of the job differently. Nonetheless, I persisted.
There were times that season in which I felt like I had a remote chance of being successful. In pregame warmups, with the energy of game night buzzing around me, I can remember hitting receivers perfectly in stride with my passes. I can remember other players and coaches stopping what they were doing—in a good way—to watch me in practice and compliment me. On one occasion in practice I let a pass go—a really long one—and I could feel electricity running through me as I planted my right foot and flung the ball. It was a perfect pass, and everyone around me at practice let out a collective gasp as the ball arced and landed in the receiver’s hands. People were even clapping!
But there weren’t enough of those moments.
We finished the season 1-9, and I went into the offseason under the impression that if I worked hard enough, I could maybe be the backup quarterback—the former backup was now the starter, as the former starter had graduated. My form and passing had improved—I think I once threw the ball 60 or 65 yards after practice one day.
I was too naive to think I could fail after doing so much work. But fail I did.
There’s a lot of reasons things didn’t pan out for me at QB. I could cite all sorts of outside factors that were certainly drawbacks, but in the end, it’s on me: I wasn’t good enough. Just looking at these photos is a little tough for me because of the pangs of failure I feel. I couldn’t even watch football on TV very often for a few years afterward because it stung so bad to fail at something I wanted more than almost anything.
By the beginning of the next season I was moved to tight end; a few guys were rotating at the backup quarterback position. I’d like to think I was a better tight end than quarterback. Had I started playing football at a younger age and learned QB basics sooner, I could have been a decent quarterback. Maybe.
It isn’t all bad, though! The experience allowed me to bond with a fellow QB, our starter for the next two years, and a warm friendship evolved from it. I also learned (sort of) how to deal with failure, and I never quit on my teammates despite the setback. I’m most proud of never giving up.
As tough as it seemed at the time, though, trying to become a quarterback was way easier than trying to become an adult.