If you saw any part of last night’s ESPYs, I hope for your sake you caught the part where Rob Mendez, the high school football coach who was born without arms or legs, was presented with the Jimmy V award. His acceptance speech electric. Heartfelt. Genuine. And so upbeat that it made you ashamed for all the times you’ve ever bellyached about some relatively minor difficulty in your life. Coach Mendez might not have limbs, but if he didn’t move you practically to tears, you’re missing a soul.
What I didn’t know until this morning, was what Mendez said off stage, about who he’d like to give an ESPY to:
“If I was to recommend an ESPY, it would be for Tom Brady, for sharing his passion with everyone. That’s where I got my passion for football, was from Tom Brady. How excited he gets on the sidelines and how he leads his troops and the other players. And it’s just so inspiring to watch him on the sidelines get fired up. And I love Tom Brady for that passion and that fire he has.”
…Annnd, I’m spent. Holy moly. A guy who is the living, breathing embodiment of passionate leadership in football gets his inspiration from Tom frickin’ Brady.
I’m sure this won’t sit well with some people. The ones who choose to believe Brady is a phony, ref-baiting, cucked pretty boy when he’s not getting suspended for cheating and “destroying” his phone. I’m sure there were people watching who were yelling at their TVs that Aaron Rodgers is a better inspiration for Coach Mendez. And I have no doubt right now Bernard Pollard is Tweeting that Brady is only a System Inspiration and Peyton Manning did it better.
But for me, I’m happy just to know that, while Rob Mendez is a million times the coach I ever was, that he can lead a football program while I can’t inspire my kids to make their beds, and that he’s managed to defeat impossible odds with courage and joy and a zest for life whereas I’ve never even broken a bone, at least we have one thing in common: We’re inspired by the same man. Godspeed, Coach.