Football season is starting to ramp up. I’ll finally get to watch the Seahawks again. When it comes to sports, this is my favorite time of year. I can’t get into Baseball. Too slow. Basketball doesn’t do it for me either. Too many games and all the excitement is in the 4th quarter. But football is just right. Only 16 games and mostly on Sunday when I’m not busy. And each play is like an extremely bruising chess match.
Most of the attention goes to the quarterback, the point man of the entire offense. More attention gets given to this position than any other.
I admit, there is a soft spot in my heart for the backup QBs. I even played Redskins 3rd stringer Colt McCoy on my fantasy team last year in week 8 and was rewarded when they beat the Cowboys on Monday Night Football.
The reason I like to see them on the field is they are rarely given the opportunity to develop their craft like the starters do. We have a very short memory when it comes to quarterbacks. If they don’t play amazing on day 1 then they’re written off right away. They’re either “good” or “bad.” The problem with this assessment is that abilities and talents are never fixed and finite, but always changing.
You don’t have to look very far for examples. Take Aaron Rodgers, currently considered the best quarterback in the NFL. He holds the record for the best touchdown to interception ratio for a quarterback career. He’s clearly an elite player. But if you go back to the start of his career you wouldn’t have guessed it. His first game he went 2 for 7 and was sacked twice. He was on the bench his first two seasons, and barely took any reps. If he was in the NFL today you might consider him a bust.
In several interviews he’s been asked what his secret was to becoming the best in the NFL. In short, he practiced. While he was in the backup QB spot he had the job of running the scout team. The scout team mimics the upcoming week’s opponents’ offense during practice. And he took it seriously. Defensive players even complained he played too hard. Rodgers said those practice reps were critical to his success.
When the new coach Mike McCarthy came in, he started drilling Rodgers’ for six hours a day. He made big changes to his technique and taught him his new offensive system. Again, he practiced.
Sounds like the start of a success story. However, it was three full seasons as backup before Rodgers would get his chance to start. Three years of hard work with little to show for it.
But that was the secret, if there is one. He practiced really hard for a long time. And for a while, no one noticed.
The parallels to being a musician are obvious. You have to put in long hours for a long time before anyone will notice. You’ll probably have a few bad gigs to get through. Maybe some folks will write you off. But, if you keep working hard, you’ve got a chance to do well. In fact, that’s your only chance to do well.