Man in the bleachers

Man in the bleachers

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 boys, he got absolutely nowhere. At all the games this hopeful athlete sat on the bench and hardly ever played. This teenager lived alone with his father, and the two of them had a very special relationship. Even though the son was always on the bench, his father was always in the stands cheering.

He never missed a game. This young man was still the smallest of the class when he entered high school. But his father continued to encourage him but also made it very clear that he did not have to play football if he didn't want to. But the young man loved football and decided to hang in there. He was determined to try his best at every practice, and perhaps he'd get to play when he became a senior. All through high school he never missed a practice nor a game, but remained a bench-warmer all four years.

His faithful father was always in the stands, always with words of encouragement for him. When the young man went to college, he decided to try out for the football team as a "walk-in." Everyone was sure he could never make the cut, but he did. The coach admitted that he kept him on the roster because he always puts his heart and soul into every practice, and at the same time, provided the other members with the spirit and hustle they badly needed.

The news that he had survived the cut thrilled him so much that he rushed to the nearest phone and called his father. His father shared his excitement and was sent season tickets for all the college games. This persistent young athlete never missed practice during his four years at college, and each week his dad would be in the stands. Each week the father would hope that this week he'd hear his sons number called, but his son never got to play in a game. It was the end of his senior football season, and as before, he trotted onto the field shortly before the big game. He noticed that his father was not in the stands this week.

The first half did not go so well, and they found themselves ten points behind. When halftime was over and the players trotted back onto the field, they did not even realize this young man talking on the phone. The game was well into the third quarter as he ran onto the sidelines, and he asked to coach to let him play..

"Coach, please let me play. I've just got to play today," said the young man.

The coach pretended not to hear him. But the young man persisted, and finally feeling sorry for the kid, who had never played a down his entire college career, the coach gave in. "All right," he said. "You can go in."

Before long, the coach, the players and everyone in the stands could not believe their eyes. This little unknown, who had never played before was doing everything right. The opposing team could not stop him. With seconds left in the game, he scored the winning touchdown. The fans broke loose. His teammates hoisted him onto their shoulders. Such cheering you never heard.

Finally, after the stands had emptied and the team had showered and left the locker room, the coach noticed that this young man was sitting quietly in the corner all alone. The coach came to him and said, "Kid, I can't believe it. You were fantastic! Tell me what got into you? How did you do it?"

He looked at the coach, with tears in his eyes, and said, "Well, you may have noticed that may dad came to all my games." The young man swallowed hard and forced a smile, "You may not have noticed that he was not here tonight, and you may not have known that he was blind. During halftime I called home to find out why he was not here, and I out that he died today. I played hard this evening because today was the first time he could see me play, and I wanted to show him I could!"