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I love stories of Diems Carpe’d.
That is too a real phrase. It’s the past imperfect conjugation of “Carpe Diem”. Or something like that. With some emphasis on imperfect. Sorry, Ms. Porter — that might be enough to send my old English teacher into seizures. Pun intended.
Have you heard the story of Kyle Sloter? Sloter was a rookie, undrafted free agent from Northern Colorado who the Broncos brought into training camp as little more than an extra arm to throw to the guys way down the depth chart. Funny thing happened, though — he became a camp star. Many observers think he may have been the second best quarterback in camp.
How do you explain such a thing? Well, if you know his back story, maybe it’s not such a surprise. Recruited to Southern Mississippi, he sat out his freshman year in the expectation that he would be the starting quarterback the next year, and maybe for three years after that. But during that freshman year, the team lost 12 games, and the coach who brought him on was fired. The new coaching staff had a new plan, and Sloter was not part of it.
No problem — Sloter just wanted to play. So he learned a new position, and got on the field for a couple seasons. Inexplicably, the new staff took away his scholarship, so he needed to find a new home.
Sadly, some of his credits from Southern Miss didn’t transfer, so the Spring and Summer when he was supposed to be learning the Northern Colorado system, he had to take extra classwork to catch up. As a result, he missed practice, and went into his senior year as the backup quarterback, without much hope of getting a lot of playing time.
Didn’t stop him, though — he kept working and preparing as if he was going to get a chance, and in the first game of the season, the starter got hurt. Sloter came in, threw for 6 touchdowns, ran for another, and played every game that season.
So, the Broncos brought him in. As good a story as that is, it didn’t actually end well. The Broncos ended up cutting Sloter at the end of training camp. But, don’t worry — he was signed to the Minnesota Vikings practice squad for $20,000 a week.
How many of you would cry over getting an entry-level position out of college for a mere $340k/year?
Kyle Sloter is a walking poster boy for Indomitable Spirit. He had, I think it’s safe to say, the weirdest string of bad luck of any athlete I’ve ever heard of. But, nothing stopped this kid — he kept working, kept plugging away, and seized every opportunity he was handed. And a few that weren’t handed to him. It just goes to show that there are no opportunities too small for the industrious and the prepared.
The flip side of this feel good story is that, sometimes, there’s no opportunity too large for the bitter or the prideful. Colin Kaepernick is also a quarterback, who came under criticism for kneeling during the national anthem last year. Some people believe that is why Kaepernick was cut from his team, and still doesn’t have a job, even though he is a talented (but limited) quarterback.
Turns out, he should have a job. He interviewed with the Baltimore Ravens, and had a Ravens legend, Ray Lewis, advocating for him. In fact, the Ravens put out a picture of Lewis hugging the team owner. Apparently, the Ravens were all set to hire Kaepernick.
Until Kaepernick’s girlfriend posted that same picture, only captioning it in an incredibly derogatory and racist way. Yeah, it was his girlfriend, but … what organization wants that headache?
Opportunity … lost.
If ever there were an object lesson in the old proverb that your circumstances don’t determine your success — your attitude does, this is it. Kids, be like Sloter.
Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His novels are available at MichaelJAlcorn.com
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