I grew tall quickly and awkwardly. Lanky might be a better word than tall. Perhaps just goofy-looking. Either way, I was a tall, lanky, goofy-looking preteen when I had my first encounter with organized sports. I joined the middle school basketball team because some friends were playing, and because presumably being tall would make me good.
The problem was that I had no idea where my lanky body was in space. My teammates began calling me “Milk Maid” when this lack of understanding led me to pour milk on myself with one arm while reaching across the cafeteria table for a tater tot with the other. Yes. The tater tot was worth it. That’s not the point.
By all accounts my teammates were good people. But they were kids. And kids tease. I was so bad at basketball that in one game when my team was up by twenty points, I stood by the basket and the team threw me the ball every time they got it—I missed every single time. I sat by myself on the bus ride back. I knew what my teammates would be saying about the Milk Maid.
Mike Glennon is a better athlete than I ever was. But he’s still goofy-looking to the point that everyone—perhaps especially Bears fans—makes fun of it. The fact that he was able to grow up through all of the ridicule—good spirited and mean-spirited alike—that comes with a middle school, high school, college and eventually professional sports career kind of blows my mind. I’m sure plenty of people encouraged Glennon to play basketball. I doubt anyone approached him to say “Hey, you look like a dork. You should be a quarterback.”
I personally gave up on organized sports after middle school until I found flag football as an adult. Glennon persisted and continued to win. The thing I didn’t understand when people came out mocking Glennon after his first preseason performance was how quickly people assumed he was unequivocally terrible and nothing to offer. I can understand how someone like Brock Osweiler might make it to the NFL without actually having anything to offer. I can’t believe a dorky-looking man could make it to the NFL in the hyper-judgmental world of sports without having quite a bit to offer.
What does he have to offer? Based on his regular-season play, he’s good at taking care of the football. He has the arm strength to connect on deep outs and deep comebacks. When his feet are set correctly, he’s an accurate passer. And from all accounts, he’s a good leader, which is hard to fully assess as a fan, but seems to check out from a distance.
But more than that, Glennon gives hope to all the Milk Maids of the world. People who might not believe in themselves because they don’t look the part can look to him for inspiration. Maybe if I had someone like MG8 to look up to when I was in middle school, I would have persevered long enough to unlock the raw athleticism that currently wreaks havoc on flag football fields across the nation when I was still in my physical prime.
Do I think Glennon is more talented than Mitchell Trubisky?
Don’t be silly.
But I’ll be rooting for our lanky run-blocking stud of a QB1 for as long as it takes for that hunky whipper-snapper to unseat him. And probably quite a bit longer...