Kelly caps a sadly familiar cautionary tale

Column by Michael Alcorn
Posted 10/30/18

Parents of teenagers, I hope you are watching. Actually, I hope you are making your kids watch. The news of the last week has been a case study in life. And no, not politics — I mean life. I have …

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Kelly caps a sadly familiar cautionary tale


Parents of teenagers, I hope you are watching.

Actually, I hope you are making your kids watch. The news of the last week has been a case study in life. And no, not politics — I mean life.

I have written before how much of a fan I am of mistakes — of trying new things, hard things, and, sometimes, failing. Because in the process of trying hard things, you stretch your limits; and when you fail, you learn; and when you pick yourself back up again and keep going, you learn resilience. I absolutely subscribe to Edison’s maxim that he never failed — he simply found 700 different ways not to build a light bulb, all of which led him to the correct version.

The thing, however, that you have to avoid, is the BIG mistake — the life altering, can’t live that down kind of screwup. For example, it’s okay to drink alcohol, it may even be okay to drink a little too much. What do you learn? A. your limits. B. that it feels really awful when you do. What is not okay is to drink alcohol and then get behind the wheel of a car.

So, what is the news of the past week that I’m referring to? Why, Chad Kelly, of course. When Chad Kelly was born, God reached down and attached a cannon to his right shoulder. On top of that, he gave him prototypical athletic size, speed and an amazing pedigree (being the nephew of an NFL Hall of Famer). Every advantage.

He earned a scholarship to one of the top football schools in the country, but got kicked off for conduct detrimental to the team. So he enrolled in a Junior College, which he led to a National Championship. That earned him a scholarship to a different school, at which he excelled.

But his conduct still left much to be desired. Home on Christmas break, he was arrested outside a night club for fighting and resisting arrest.

There was also an incident when he ran out of the stands onto the field at his brother’s high school football game. When he entered the NFL draft, he was coming off of two significant injuries, but was still considered a great talent. Unfortunately, his off-the-field problems had him headed towards not being drafted at all.

Following me so far? Million-dollar talent, five cent brain. Lots of mistakes, which seemed to have him headed towards the end of his dream.

But then, an old family friend reached out and did his uncle a favor, and with the last possible pick of the draft, John Elway made Chad Kelly a Bronco. A second chance.

In his first 16 months in Denver, Chad seemed to be doing everything right. He changed his body, rehabilitated his injuries, spent time studying, and eventually displaced the heir apparent, in the process becoming one of the most popular Broncos. In fact, on the very day his story went south, a report came out that he was likely to get a chance to start a game this year.

And then Tuesday happened. A Broncos Halloween party, an altercation, entering a private home, followed by an arrest and subsequent firing by the Broncos.

It is highly doubtful that Chad Kelly will get another shot at the NFL. That dream is over. No more second chances. Whatever it is that causes him to act this way, it has now permanently changed the course of his life.

And it could have been SO much worse: he’s actually very lucky the homeowner chased him off with a plastic tube instead of a loaded shotgun.

Kids, you don’t have time to make all the mistakes in the world — learn from others. Don’t waste your gifts and talents by making the “big” mistake; don’t squander second chances by letting your demons get the best of you; and don’t throw away years of hard work with momentary lapses of judgment.

Here endeth the lesson.

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Charon’s Blade,” will be available soon. His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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