As a correspondent sports writer for The Casey County News, I write an weekly editorial column for the publication. Published July 17, 2013.
Tall, muscular, a trendy—typically short—hair style and an overall “clean cut” look: it’s a pretty good stereotypical description of a male athlete. At least that’s what movies, TV shows and books go with. And let’s face it—it fits most of our American athletes, even if not all.
What we don’t picture is an old, bearded, ZZ Top looking character. That’s the stereotypical description of a downhome, country bumpkin. So that’s why it came as a surprise to some when news came out several months back that Duck Dynasty start Phil Robertson once had a future potentially heading to the NFL.
Much because of their “redneck” appearance, a star quarterback is the last thing we might imagine out of any of the entertaining crew from A&E’s reality show. However, Phil was possibly the best athlete to ever rise out of his hometown of Vivian, La.
He went on from there to be the starting quarterback for Louisiana Tech. In fact, playing second to Phil’s natural throwing arm was Terry Bradshaw, who went on to play for the Pittsburgh Steelers and remains a regular character in today’s sports as a co-host on Fox NFL Sunday.
It was not so much football itself that brought Phil to the spotlight, but his arm. In high school he not only threw a pig skin, but he excelled in baseball and javelin also.
What we sports fans sometimes forget, though, is that just because someone is a standout athlete, it does not mean it is their life’s calling or that they even want it to be their life’s calling. I remember there was a point in my high school career when I was not sure that running in college was something I wanted—even though I did love my sport. I wasn’t sure if I would continue to love it in the same way with the pressures of college while also feeling the need to reach certain expectations if I was being “paid” (scholarship) to run for a school.
I did choose to run in a college and thoroughly enjoyed it; however, by the time I graduated from Bellarmine, I was all right to say goodbye to my days of regular track competition. While I still enjoyed it, my interests and passions for other things had grown and I was ready to pursue them with my life, rather than just a sport I enjoyed.
No one from Phil Robertson’s past can deny his love of the outdoors, hunting and fishing even throughout his days of quarterback stardom. He gave up his final season of eligibility to pursue these other loves.
The family stars of Duck Dynasty are always quick to thank God for their blessings. I think it’s safe to say that Phil is an example to all of us about following and knowing our life’s plan. If we pay attention to the powers greater than us, we’ll end up with a life we can fully appreciate and love. He could have continued on the path to be a star athlete in the NFL, but in his heart he was called in another direction. Would he have had success in the NFL? We will never know, but we do know that he followed his heart and has found tremendous success in doing so.
There are many ways residents of our county can relate to the Robertson family whether it be their love of God, love of the outdoors, love a enjoying the simple things in life or even a love of sports. It seems more common to have a respect and admiration for our country’s famed athletes, but perhaps we shouldn’t bypass taking a second look at those country bumpkins and what there is to respect about them and learn from them. Maybe we should be proud when we can more common ground with these people than the spotlight loving sports stars.