At the end of the Army-Navy game, the Army QB, a young man named Trent Steelman, the best name ever for an Army quarterback, fumbled the ball and lost a chance for Army to break an ten game losing streak to Navy.
Let me be clear, I am Navy Blue and Gold, so I am happy we won. But it was heartbreaking to watch.
Many commenter’s on boards and stories have given Cadet Steelman a bunch of shit for crying his eyes out at the end of the game. I am not one of them. Indeed, for what it’s worth, I cried a little bit with him.
This game is about so much more than just football, so much more than simple winning or losing paradigms. This game is about kids becoming men and being entrusted with our, make that my, rights and freedoms. And many of the lessons they learn along the way to gaining that trust come on the fields of athletics, particularly in Cadet Steelman’s case, the gridiron.
For a few brief moments, late in the 4th quarter, Army, led by Steelman, reached down and found the resolve and “can do” that the American fighting man is famous for having. Refusing to go quietly into that good night, the Army rolled its caissons down the field reaching the Navy Ten yard line and by then, everybody knew that Army was going to win today and end the streak of frustration.
It’s odd how things happen sometimes.
If there is anything that the military indwells into its members, it is a loyalty to our fellow sailors, Soldiers, Airmen, Marines and Coasties. A drive to not let the rest of my shipmates or teammates down. To not be the cause of a failure. But of even greater importance, to take responsibility for my own actions and failures. To make no excuses, but to learn from the mistakes and make myself not only stronger, but the unit as service and country in the process.
You may have watched and thought to yourself, “It’s just a football game, why is he crying like that?”
I watched and I saw a young man learn a lesson today. A hard lesson, but a lesson today that was learned in athletics, and one that I fear will, but pray will not, be put into use on the battlefield.
On Sunday you will see a great deal of athletic prowess and skill. You will see quarterbacks make amazing throws and lead their teams to wins or comebacks that fall just short. You will see some of them preen and gesture so that the whole world see their magnificence.
But none of them are as much the man in whom I will place the safety of my liberty, Trent Steelman.
Don’t worry, Trent, I cried too. Because I understand what it means and I know the challenge you will now go on to undertake. There will be no million dollar contracts, no shoe endorsements, no fancy jets and hotels, no adoring fans and no talking heads analyzing your every move.
But every day I get up a free American I will know that it is because of you and your teammates who lost a football game, but won what really matters.
-Follow up story from August of 2015 – His service obligation complete, Steelman hopes to make it in the NFL as a Receiver