The One NFLer You'll Want to Cheer On and What He is Teaching Me
Gardner Minshew II. If you haven’t heard of him, you will soon enough. In this case, as an introduction, his picture really is worth a thousand words:
William Mancebo/Getty Images via The Big Lead
The moustache. The headband over the Steve Prefontaine hair. The aviator sunglasses. The fact that his name is Gardner Minshew the Second even though there is no Gardner Minshew the First.
For obvious reasons, Gardiner Minshew II is slowly amassing a cult following and I was an early adopter. He became the quarterback last year at my alma mater, Washington State University. So, I’ve had a full year to soak up the goodness that is Gardner Minshew II.
After a year of cheering him on, I can tell you he has a lot more depth than just the noteworthy facial hair. He is inspiring.
Here are the lessons I’ve learned so far from Gardner Minshew II:
Never underestimate the underdog. Gardner Minshew II wasn’t offered a position at a big state school until his fourth year of college. He was drafted in the sixth round of the NFL draft this year. Coach after coach talks of the low expectations they had for him. They often say he was supposed to be a 2nd or 3rd string backup quarterback. And then they talk about how hard he worked, how carefully he listened, and how quickly he picked up the systems they were teaching him. They talk about how he earns his way to the top.
A steep learning curve offers the opportunity to grow. Minshew’s current coach talks about how terribly Minshew played in the pre-season. He was learning. When the Superbowl-winning Nick Foles got injured early in the Jaguars’ first game of the season, the coach expected nothing of Minshew. But here’s the thing: he simply learned what he needed to do and then he delivered. You don’t have to be an expert when you start. Rather, you just have to start, gain experience and learn. That is how you become an expert.
True team members lead by example. Let me tell you the origin story of the ‘stache. Minshew showed up at Washington State University after spring training was done. He was walking in late, replacing a quarterback who tragically and unexpectedly died. Minshew had to earn the team’s trust fast. In an effort to break the ice, he convinced his team members to grow moustaches. It was silly, lighthearted and a great way to bond. In the end, he kept the ‘stache and gained a team. With their trust, he led them to the conference championships and they won a bowl game.
Success comes to those who don’t take themselves too seriously. Obviously.
At first glance, Gardner Minshew II seems a little over the top. But I’ve had time to follow him as his career has grown and I can confirm: there is more to him than the moustache.