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Why Winning Is Important To Me

2011 February 7
by robertnew

When I was a kid there was an accident while I was in the hospital getting my tonsils out.  A nurse injected me with a shot in my hip, but she injected my sciatic nerve and paralyzed my left leg.  I was in kindergarten at the time and had to leave the hospital on crutches.  My leg developed to where I could walk, but I could not raise my foot up and down or use it.  I spent the next several years wearing a metal brace on my leg, not able to do much as far as running or playing.  Needless to say, I got made fun of a lot.

But my mom and dad never gave up and never accepted the fact that I would be crippled for life.  They sacrificed a tremendous amount to search out doctors who tried all kinds of remedies, most of which were not too pleasant.  Some included shock therapy which basically meant strapping me down and running straight electricity through my leg to try to stimulate the nerves.  They even sent my mom and dad home with a portable unit with instructions on how to apply the electricity to the back of my leg.  My dad would hold me down and mom would use it on me.

Today, some people would say this constitutes abuse, but I know they did whatever it took to give me the opportunity to walk.  Finally, they located a surgeon who was willing to try a procedure which involved the movement of the muscles that pull my foot in to the top of my foot, to hold my foot up so I could walk.  I would have very limited range of motion, but might be able to get rid of the metal brace.  The procedure took almost two years of surgeries and wearing a cast.

The surgeon’s treatment worked, and it worked well.  I could run.  As a matter of fact I was pretty fast.  But the best part, I got started lifting weights and playing football.  I had the opportunity to play three years for the best high school football coach in the State of Ohio, Ed Miller.  Today he is a member of the Ohio High School Football Coaches Hall of Fame.  He was tough, smart, pushed me beyond my limits, and instilled in me a desire to win.  Actually more than a desire.  You see, I HATE to lose.  Most people now teach their kids that it is okay to lose as long as you try hard.  For obvious reasons, I don’t buy that.  The minute you start thinking it is acceptable to lose, you’ve lost.

I wasn’t a great football player, after all I got a very late start compared to some of the other guys in my class.  But for a kid who was told he would never walk without a brace, I was elated to get to practice and run onto the field.  My senior year I couldn’t play, my leg was starting to give me problems already.

It’s a long story, but needless to say I owe a lot to my parents and a football coach who taught me to never give up and to win.

I wish the Steelers would have had that same desire last night.

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