There was a skinny young boy who loved football with all his heart. Practice after practice, he eagerly gave everything he had; but being half the size of the others, he rarely got into the games. In spite of that, his father was always in the stands cheering.
After high school, he made the college team as a “walk-in.” The coach admitted that he put the boy on the roster because he always put lots of heart and soul into every practice, providing the other members with the spirit and hustle they badly needed.
His father shared his excitement and got season tickets for all the college games. As before, the young athlete never missed practice during his four years at college, but he never got to play in a game. At the end of his senior football season, as he trotted onto the practice field shortly before the big playoff game, he was handed a telegram.
After reading it, he mumbled to the coach, “My father died this morning. Is it all right if I miss practice today?” The coach put his arm gently around his shoulder and said, “Take the rest of the week off, son. And don’t try to come back for the game on Saturday.”
Saturday arrived, and the team was behind by ten points in the third quarter. They were surprised to see the young man appear on the sidelines, dressed in his football gear. He ran to the coach and begged to be put into the game. After delaying as long as possible, the coach finally said, “All right. Go on in.”
The boy did everything right. He ran, blocked, and tackled like a star. His team began to triumph, and, in the closing seconds, he intercepted a pass and scored the winning touchdown.
The fans broke loose, and his teammates hoisted the boy onto their shoulders. Later, after the stands had emptied and the team had showered and left the locker room, the coach saw the boy sitting alone in the corner. “Son,” said the coach, “what got into you tonight?”
“Well,” the boy answered, “did I ever tell you that my dad was blind?” He swallowed and forced a smile, “He never missed a game, but today was the first time he could see me play.”