When I was a youngster baseball was impossible in our suburban neighborhood. Hardballs and windows are a bad combination. From time to time, we played wiffle ball (often with a paper and tape ball), but almost every day we played football. We played football in the front yard, in the back yard, in the street and in the school yard. We played football almost any where you could find a level patch of ground.
To look at my stomach now you might not guess it, but I was pretty dern quick in those days. Or as my brother once said at a football game in our twenties, “You were never as fast as you used to be.”
Although I was a Redskin fan, my favorite player was Fran Tarkenton the scrambling quarterback. Like Fran Tarkenton I used my fleet feet and threw the ball. Each time I scored a touchdown or made a gain, I got a little better in my mind. Eventually, I began to think of myself as the total package. No one could tackle me in the open field. No one
… or so I thought.
The pinnacle of my arrogance came one day when I challenged the entire neighborhood to a game of football.
“That’s right. On one side, it’s me. On the other team are all you losers.”
A couple of my Facebook buddies, including my brother Eric and Chuck S., were there that day, though perhaps they don’t remember the day as well as I do. They started by kicking the ball off to me. I caught the ball and started down field. A half-dozen redneck children and a black kid charged downfield at me. I gave a limp leg here and a stiff arm there, spin move and then a leap, but ended up under a pile of kids.
No worries, four downs to get that ball in there. I stood at the line of scrimmage and was already realizing a number of life’s most valuable lessons.
On one side of the line of scrimmage was me, all by myself. On the other side of the line of scrimmage were friends and neighbors and my younger brother—all of them grinning. I looked left and right. No blockers. No receivers. I barked out a snap count to … myself and took off.
They buried me.
Okay. Same play, but this time, I’ll run left.
They buried me.
A third time they buried me. “Well, I guess I’ll have to punt?” A couple of them dropped back to catch the punt.
I snapped the ball … to myself but it was a fake punt! “Take that losers! Open field here I come.”
They buried me again. After turning the ball over on downs, I had to face them on defense.
My friend Chuck wasn’t much a football strategist. He was more of an elbow in the gut when he tackled you kind of player rather than a finger in the dust tactician. But even Chuck spotted the small flaw in my defensive strategy. “Who are you going to cover?”
Life is a better teacher than any classroom. I learned a valuable lesson about arrogance, but more importantly I learned that it doesn’t matter how good you think you are … you still need a team.
|About the Author — Will Nesbitt is the principal broker of Condo Alexandria / Nesbitt Realty. Will is a realtor who specializes in condos, townhouses and single family real estate in Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax County, Crystal City, and Kingstowne. Will resides in Belle Haven Estates just outside Alexandria VA in Fairfax County.|