Everything in life holds a lesson. I do not believe the lesson of my broken leg and the titanium rod that was placed in my tibia is that football is a dangerous and violent game. Football is full contact, but it is also about team and surrendering to the fact that no one can do it alone. You need people around you. Football teaches you how to trust the guy beside you. One year ago on Homecoming, I stood on the football field ready to play, listening as former Governor Carcieri dedicated our field to the memory of his late father. Of Nicola J. Carcieri, the beloved EG teacher and coach, the Governor said, “He loved this town, he loved this school, and he loved the game of football.”
One year later the weight of those words finally hit me. As I struggle to regain my footing, my teammates, classmates, neighbors, friends, teachers, and school are there for me. I could never manage without their constant support. They wheel me to class, carry my stuff, help me catch up, and lighten my load. Of course there are the ones who ride the elevator pretending to be my escort and make me push myself while the elevator door is closing on my leg and the occasional few who leave me locked outside the building shivering in the cold with my books piled on my lap. Once I get back on my feet, I’ll be getting even with them. As you probably would have guessed, most of these guys are my own teammates from football.
If somewhere out there in our town there is a mother who is warning her son about the dangers of playing football (other than my mother), let there also go forth the warning that without football I might never have come to know what team and community can be at their best. What playing for your hometown under the lights on a Friday night feels like, or how good and kind the people I live here with, go to school with, play sports with, and who teach me truly are. These kinds of lessons inspire and humble one like nothing else.
The great French playwright and author Alexandre Dumas (The Count of Monte Cristo, The Three Musketeers) wrote, “Life is a storm, my friend. Have courage. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next.” When this storm came, my teammates, classmates, teachers, school, and town taught me not only the value of community but set an indelible example for me. It is easier to have courage with others standing beside you. Now when my friend or neighbor faces his storm, I’ll be there. There’s nowhere else I’d rather be or nothing else that could be more important. That’s what I’ve learned so far from playing football. So, mothers, it’s okay to let your sons become football players. Yes, football is full contact, but Coach Carcieri had it right. I love my town, I love my school, and I love the game of football.