Football isn't for quitters. That's one of the reasons people love it so much. Courage and toughness are absolutely essential to play it. Try to fake that, and you lose. More than that, you will deserve to lose.
Such are the lessons I'm trying to teach my seventh-grade son as he embarks on his first season of tackle football. It's the first time as a dad I've put my thumb on the scales and made him do an activity he wasn't certain of.
While he's played flag football for several years and is certainly interested in playing tackle football on some level without my insistence, he has also shown some hesitancy to move forward with such an intense and physical commitment.
He is, in some sense, afraid of what is to come.
That is totally understandable. But it is also something that he simply can't give in to. Not because this is about football, but because this is about life. Ours is to enter through the narrow gate, not the path of least resistance. We must struggle. We must fight. We must overcome.
Be not afraid. If my son can do that on the football field, he'll have a much better chance of doing that in all other walks of life as a man, a husband, and a father. He will be a leader, not a sheep.
He'll be a dude in full, a dude like Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
Not only did that guy not quit like some are saying in recent days, but he fulfilled the promise of playing football as much as any player possibly could. He gave so much of himself by setting aside fear in the face of multiple severe injuries, including one of his bodily organs, over the course of a seven-year career and fought until he simply couldn't fight any longer.
His brothers in arms in the locker room seem to universally believe that, even though Luck is leaving them in a tough spot with the season right around the corner. How ridiculous then that the fanboy who would wet himself if he had to miss watching a single minute of his beloved team is nonetheless holding it against Luck, for finding it incredibly difficult to find the right time to let go of the game he literally sacrificed his body for.
Those who booed Andrew Luck upon hearing about his retirement need to reflect on that and realized they were blessed to have him as the face of their franchise for the time he was there. And those who are doubling down on the notion that Luck is somehow weak or disloyal for the leaving the game at this time are simply jerks who are doing life wrong.
Your idols are consuming you. Sure, I love football as much as anyone. Football season is my second-favorite time of the year, after Christmas. Not to mention, football can help teach you important life lessons, but it isn't the meaning of life.
Try to remember that while you watch what will almost certainly be less football than I will be watching this weekend, because I will be watching a lot. Living in a great country still allows us that special privilege. But probably not for long if we are blind enough to tear down a warrior like Luck.