8 Oct
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Lesson Learned From a NFL Player

I didn’t go to the Denver Broncos football game on Sunday thinking I’d be able to use my day as a teachable moment for my kids. I went to the game with my husband to visit with friends we hardly ever see and have an experience without my lovely children.

We arrived at Sports Authority Field at Mile High almost four hours before kickoff, something we would never have done with four kids in tow. We didn’t really have any plans for our time. We were going to walk around the stadium, take photos inside without 75,000 fans present and just enjoy the day. We saw a small crowd of people near one of the gates when we arrived and decided to have a look. That decision set the tone for an amazing day.

Denver Bronco Demaryius Thomas signing an autograph

The crowd was waiting for the Denver players to walk into the stadium. Almost as soon as we made it to the gates, Peyton Manning made his appearance. He was eventually a long arm’s distance from us, taking his time to sign autographs for fans. Only a handful of players spent time signing autographs. Most waved to the fans and walked down the tunnel. I can’t blame them. They were there for work.

It wasn’t until Demaryius Thomas made his way directly toward where we were standing that I actually thought we needed an autograph. We were not prepared…no Sharpie, no specific item to sign. As #88 came our direction, I turned around and ripped the hat off my husband’s head and hung it over the gate with a group of other autograph seekers. I really didn’t think he would sign it, and I was really hoping I would be able to snag someone’s Sharpie. He passed by my hat once and then grabbed it, someone’s else’s permanent marker still in his hand, and signed our dirty, old, grungy Denver Broncos hat.

We were able to see most of the team walk into the stadium before we headed in ourselves to enjoy a game filled with personal and team records, milestones, fantastic weather, great company and the all-important win for Denver.

Denver Bronco Demaryius Thomas signing an autograph

It wasn’t until I returned home and told the story of our autographed hat to our kids, several times, that I realized Demaryius Thomas actually gave me the chance to teach my kids in a way they could relate. They knew how excited we all were to have that hat and that he didn’t have to use his time to sign Broncos paraphernalia.

The two things our boys took away from the experience:

  1. You should at least try to do things. Not trying results in nothing gained.
  2. One minute of your time may have lasting effects on someone else.

At the end of the day, the autograph is just a signature from some guy who is really good at his job, but it may have resulted in at least one sound decision from our oldest.  I watched B help a girl chase a paper that was blowing in the breeze after school. He didn’t know the girl, and there were many others who didn’t budge. When he got in our vehicle, I told him that was a nice thing to do. His reply: “Maybe it was something important to her. She might remember that day someone helped her save it.”

Thank you Demaryius Thomas, for more than the autograph.


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  • I’m still getting used to this and the fact that every interaction is a chance for meaningful conversation and shaping the person they become. Sending them out into the big world that functions different than we’d like it to still scares me. The other day my husband overheard X say “My mom says we don’t say that word” and I’m still amazed that the initial conversation we had about not using the F-A-T word to describe or label someone really stuck, so much that he applied it the video game they were playing.

    • I’ve learned that most of the big lessons I want my kids to learn aren’t taught in moments where I’m meaningfully trying to teach anyone anything. I’m continually surprised at the connections my kids make all on their own.