COMMENTARY — It was a gorgeous October afternoon in southern Utah and life was great. I had recently lost about 30 pounds and was feeling young and peppy. The temperature was in the mid-70s and football was in full bloom.
At the time, I was editor-in-chief of Southern Utah Youth Sports magazine, and things were looking good. I was making money, we were winning awards and sports fans in Washington County were patting me on the back so often, I started wearing thicker shirts. I had assigned myself to do a story on Brian Scott and the machine that had become Hurricane football. The undefeated Tigers were an amazing story. Using an old school approach and an even older offensive set, the wing-T, Hurricane went from perennial doormat in Region 9 to perennial powerhouse.
The key, as I saw it, was the fullback. With a line of tough guys, as I called them, Hurricane had ridden its way almost to the top of the 3A football heap. Two of those tough guys, brothers, were Kenny and Brian Scott. Separated by six years, the two brothers shared the same DNA and the same passion for football and wrestling. I had spoken with Kenny earlier in the day on the phone and he was what I expected — a tough guy, not unfriendly, but certainly a man’s man. I imagined Kenny probably worked on exhaust systems and wrestled steers and could chew glass, if needed.
During my conversation with Kenny, he cautioned me that his brother Brian was not like him. In fact, he said Brian wasn’t like most people. What in the world did he mean by that, I wondered, as I approached Hurricane’s brand new stadium, complete with artificial turf. I had interviewed Brian once or twice after games, but the previous encounters had been hurried, deadline-based inquiries where my top priority was to get him to say something that would fit into the story I was going to write. This time, my mind was wide open. I was ready to listen and learn what Brian Scott had to say.
And so I listened. And I learned.
He approached me just as practice ended. He had already peeled off his shoulder pads and undershirt and he shook my hand shirtless. Two things immediately struck me. First of all, I couldn’t help but notice that he was physically, well, perfect. He wasn’t weightlifter-gross, with muscles and veins popping out everywhere. He was very muscley, for sure, but it wasn’t in your face. In fact, at 6-foot-1, 220-pounds, he seemed to be perfectly proportioned.
The other thing that I noticed right away was his grin. He smiled and smiled and smiled. I asked him about his family and he smiled. I asked him about Hurricane’s past history and he smiled. I asked him if he was tired after a two and a half hour practice and he smiled. It wasn’t a goofy smile. He seemed genuinely happy.
So finally, I asked him about his smile. And he smiled.
“I’m just happy to be here. Life is good,” he said. “The guys are going to razz me later because I am getting interviewed, but I don’t care. Things are good.”
The kid had just given every ounce of energy for 150 minutes straight, colliding with teammates every 30 seconds or so, and yet he couldn’t stop smiling.
I got my interview. As usually happens, we made a little small talk after the voice recorder was turned off. He told me that being on the football field, even during an interview, was one of his favorite places on earth.
I don’t believe Brian knew at that point his days were numbered. Within a year, he would be diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia. Twenty-seven months after our 30-minute chat at Tigers Stadium, he passed from this life.
But whether he knew his life would be short or not, he taught me a great lesson that day — actually, several of them. Brian Scott didn’t care about money or looks or even glory. I tried for 30 minutes to get him to talk about himself. All he wanted to do was talk about his teammates and his family. And he just kept smiling the whole time. I believe those two things were tied together. His teammates and his family made him happy. When he talked about them, he couldn’t stop smiling. It made perfect sense.
The other lesson I learned was a cautionary one to all of us. Brian lived life as if he may not have a future. Unfortunately, his was cut very short. But we all should live that way. Write that book. Take that trip. Propose to that girl. What are you waiting for?! Learn from Brian, have the guts to do what makes you happy right now.
We all live for the future, for that brass ring somewhere off in the distance. Unfortunately, we miss a lot of great stuff that is right here next to us by looking ahead. My kids are growing up too fast. Who knows if I’ll be around when they are having kids? Heck, who knows if they’ll be around to even have kids?
I wish Brian Scott was going to be here. I wish he could serve that mission to Uruguay. I wish he could play football at Southern Utah University. I wish he could come back and coach at his alma mater and raise a new generation of Scott fullbacks. But that’s not going to happen.
The best thing we can do is be like Brian Scott. Be happy. Live in the moment. Enjoy what you do. Do what you enjoy.
And keep smiling.
Andy Griffin is a sports commentator. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
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