🏈 #AtoZChallenge: Q is for quarterback


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I didn’t always dream of becoming a writer.

Q2020I was going to become an NFL quarterback. I could throw a perfect spiral in fourth grade – with a plastic ball OR a Nerf. Talk about versatility. I had all the tools.

Except the talent and physical gifts.

But if dreams were those things, I’d be giving a Hall of Fame speech at some point. As early as I can remember, I had a love affair with the game of football.

The cool thing about my quarterback aspirations is that nothing could dent them.

And when stuff happens in life and obstacles pop up, I remember those days. When I’d doodle pictures of my jersey in the margins of my homework assignments.

seahawks eli
That hair, though. I grew up in a Broncos home, as is evidenced by the Broncos clock on the wall. Eventually, I came around to Broncos Orange. But early on … I embraced the role of outlier.

‘Yeah, right!’

My teacher, Mrs. Gunby, asked me once about the jersey – Pacheco, #10, same as my idol, Seahawks quarterback Jim Zorn. That’s what I’m going to wear, I told her, when I play in the NFL. She squawked. Yeah right!

I didn’t mind that. I didn’t play in the NFL, but not because of Mrs. Gunby.

I was the kid who brought the ball to recess, but didn’t star in the game. I was more likely to get big laughs, not get in the end zone. But damn, did I love football.

There’s more than one way onto the field, though.

As my friends passed me with growth spurts, I grew as a writer. As they became starters on the team, I fought like hell to be their backups. When they made the high school team, I made my way to a class called Intro to Journalism.

Our friend Kent even made it to the Division I college level.

He played for Oregon – or was it Oregon State? We teased him that we didn’t know the difference. I’m a duck, not a beaver! he’d yell at us, and yes, it sounded as ridiculous then as it does now.

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Finding a way

As my friends went off to college, too, they were already looking back at the good old days of football.

My good days had just gotten started. I got a job my final year in college covering an NFL expansion team called the Carolina Panthers. At halftime, writers gorged themselves on Carolina barbecue in the press box.

I tried to do my English homework (but usually gave up for the barbecue.)

I toiled my way from small paper to big, interviewing high school kids on Fridays, NFL stars on Sundays. I learned my craft and as my friends watched from the couch, I got to tell the stories. One day, I even got to talk to the same guy I was going to wear No. 10 in honor of: Jim Zorn.

By then, I was a middle aged dad – he was a quarterbacks coach.

I wasn’t throwing spirals, I was asking questions. I thought of Mrs. Gunby, and how I never had to say goodbye to a dream. I had to find a different way there, that’s all.

But talking to players … that’s not the same. It can’t be as exciting as being ON the field, can it?

Yeah, right.

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#AtoZChallenge

A is for Ain’t Too Proud To Beg, Adam and Avril, and Amidala

B is for Bonnie Marie Williams, voiceover superhero, a #GirlsRock interview

C is for Conversations, Camdyn and cookies (#GratitudeAndShit) 

D is for Dorsey Standish, yoga teacher and mindfulness coach, for #GirlsRock

E is for End-of-your-career awards

F is for Frank, my uncle

G is for 💇🏽‍♂️ Go Ask Daddy about what you GET to keep on Flea Market Flip, if I’m GOING to sit in a racecar next time I get my hair cut, and how high basketball scores GO

H is for ✊🏻 haiku (my quarantine journal)

I is for being IN progress, IMMUNE system meditations and INSIGHT (for #GratitudeAndShit)

J is for Jess Cohn, an interview with a senior acquisitions editor, for #GirlsRock

K is for Kelly Calhoun, an interview with an influencer, reporter and model, for #GirlsRock

L is for learn

M is for middle finger, mercy rules, and mating (Go Ask Daddy)

N is for Nancy Kempa, realtor and translator, for #GirlsRock

🎡 O is for observing, opportunities, and optimism (#GratitudeAndShit)

P is for purify your mindset

Madden quote quarterback

15 Comments

  1. Ah yes, the 1980s … when we all thought that hairdo was a good idea. 😉

    Fun to get another glimpse into your life, Eli. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It *was* a good idea, wasn’t it? Thank you for taking the glimpse, Sharon. It’s wonderful to have you here.

  2. You became the start of your own story, your own way. Excellent.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I wasn’t sure which was it was going, but I went. We all do that, right, Mimi?

  3. beth says:

    you coulda’ been a contender! i think it’s great that you became a starter in another arena.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Oh, I coulda! The cool thing, I can still play a little in this one, and get better with age, I hope.

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