What Sports Taught Me About Life

(By David Grant)

Back in the day, football practice jerseys were hard to come by, but I remember ruining several of my dad's favorite t-shirts by marking them with up with the number 25. I was an Oakland Raider fan, and wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff was my favorite. I studied everything I could about him, even down to the stickum.

I learned several things about stickum. One is that is doesn't work well in the rain, unless you like being covered in grass after you go down. And you can actually get the can stuck to your hands, which makes putting it down rather difficult. And if you practice in a humid area like I did, you can catch more bugs than footballs!

In one particular game with blizzard-like conditions, temperatures below 17 degrees, and wearing as many clothes as I could stuff under my pads, I cut across the middle on the icy turf, made a half-baked fake and waddled toward what I thought was the goal line. To my surprise, the cornerback bit on the fake and fell down. I was wide open. All I could see as I looked back toward my quarterback was snow, a bunch of linebackers’ hands and this brown and white thing headed toward me, which I soon realized was the ball. The pass was behind me, and I tried to stop on the snow and ice. Next thing I knew, my feet were out from under me, and I was flat on my back.

The ball fell almost straight down, as I turned onto my side to try and reach it. But I could not quite get to it with my heavily-gloved left hand. Instead, the ball stuck to my leg. Apparently, there were enough socks stuffed into my thigh pads to keep one patch of stickum warm for the block of ice masquerading as a football to stay put. Next thing I knew, I was covered in teammates. The TD put us ahead, and we eventually won that game. We didn’t win many, so it was great.

I was not a gifted athlete, but football taught me acceptance and respect for others. It taught me to work hard, stay dedicated and that it is a privilege to put on the uniform and for people to be able to count on you and that you deliver when it's your turn.

My second and last season, I doubled as a wideout and cornerback. Being a corner taught me how to run backwards! That skill came in handy while serving as an NCAA field judge/side judge. Being an official was great, because it allowed me to give back to the game. And even as an official, I felt it was still a privilege to put on the uniform.

There are so many things sports, and football in particular, can teach all of us. But one thing that might be more important than anything else is that as long as you are involved, you can mentor someone. That alone makes staying involved worth “sticking” to.

David Grant is a former NCAA official and currently resides in southern California. He is the site's NFL Briefs writer.


  1. That..is my favorite photo of #25...nice.

  2. If a bundled up for school Randy from "A Christmas Story" played football, I imagine this is what would have happened.


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