The NFL just finished its annual draft and many young men now get to choose their futures.
Sure, the seventh-round draft choice has to work a lot harder to make the team than the guys chosen in the first two rounds, but they still have a chance to make the NFL a future.
But, it's no guarantee.
Whether it's Cam Newton, Jake Lockert, Blaine Gabbert or Christian Ponder, these first-round quarterbacks will be given many opportunities to sink or swim with the organizations that selected them.
Will they turn out like Payton Manning or JaMarcus Russell, like Doug Williams or Heath Shuler, like Tim Couch or Joe Flacco, like Andrew Ware or Drew Bledsoe, like Ryan Leaf or Dan Marino?
Time will tell, but like Steve Howe or Darryl Strawberry, these guys will be given ample opportunity to pass or fail.
Most of that depends on their choices.
Once the lockout ends and the guys are signed to lucrative contracts, the question will arise on how they spend their time.
Do they make it rain, or are they the last person out of the practice facility?
Do they study film like Jon Gruden or Steve Spurrier?
Who will they listen to more, Tony Dungy or Charlie Sheen?
" For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more." - Luke 12:48.
You can't be an excellent student without studying.
You can't be an excellent musician without practice.
You can't be an excellent baseball player if you can't hit.
You can't be an excellent basketball player if you can't play defense.
You can't be an excellent singer without hours of lessons.
You can't be an excellent coach or teacher without pushing kids past the limits they set for themselves.
You can't be an excellent anything without spending time working on your craft.
What do you do with what you are given?
Do you spend time honing your craft, or are you in the basement playing some pathetic video game?
Do you excuse your upbringing, or do you makes excuses for it?
Do you flaunt your upbringing, or are you humbled by it?
Do you take the talent God has given you and work hard and harder to refine it, or do you set is aside like some weightlifting machine that has now become a clothesline?
Does someone have to twist your arm to actually do the right thing, or can you actually perform that task without a thought?
There is a laundry list of current and former high school athletes in our area who have taken that talent and worked their collective tails off to get better.
Whether it is Liz Repella, Zach Collaros, Teddi Jo Maslowski, Max Nogay, Chad Ford, Connor Arlia, Christina Furda, Branko Busick, L.J. Campbell or Shaq Petteway (to name a few) they don't just sit idly by and allow those God-given talents to waste away by sitting on the shelf, next to all those trophies.
Those trophies are there not because they are good kids (which they are), those trophies are there because of all the hard work and sweat put in working hard on their deficiencies.
Those kids are role models in more ways than sports.
They have been given much and much is required of them.
It is required of them each time they step in public because someone is watching what they do and how they interact with those around them, whether it is a grandmother or 5-year-old.
They are being watched on their respective athletic field to see how they handle adversity, a rough opponent or a terrible call by an official.
They are watched to see how they handle their teammates and coaches.
Will they excuse away garbage, or will they stand up and be held accountable?
Two years ago I was talking with Steubenville Big Red baseball coach Fred Heatherington and he told me then that this current team was going to be special.
He was right.
They aren't undefeated and No. 1 in the state in Division II just because some people felt sorry for them and have allowed them to win 14 games.
They have worked hard and they have earned each one of those 14.
But, going forward, that means nothing.
They have bigger things in mind and no one, no one, is going to lie down for this team. Heatherington knows that and so does his club.
They have worked hard to be in this position.
Look folks, hard work never guarantees success, it just makes it that much easier to attain.
The area is getting two new high school basketball coaches at Catholic Central (girls) and Toronto (boys) and a new football coach was named recently at Weir.
These folks won't be hired to win two games a year.
But, those coaches need cooperation.
They need cooperation from the kids to work hard, especially when they don't want to.
They need cooperation from the parents to not make excuses for their kids and to get them where they need to be and on time.
They need cooperation from the administration to tell parents to sit down and watch.
After all, coaches coach, parents parent and teachers teach.
It's really not a good thing when they get mixed up.
Can you be Clay Shiver?
In 1995 he was named as a preseason all-American at center by a men's magazine while playing for Florida State.
He declined the honor.
"I couldn't see any good coming from being in the magazine," Shiver has said in many published reports. "My mind was made up before it was offered to me."
Shiver was eventually drafted by Dallas at No. 67 overall and started 25 games over three seasons before a shoulder injury cut his career short.
"It's almost funny how God works these things out even before we're faced with them," said Shiver.
Approximately two weeks before the news was announced, Shiver said he prayed about how he would respond because Clint Purvis, the Seminoles' chaplain, thought Shiver would get the honor.
Shiver did not want to embarrass his grandmother or mother, endorse the magazine or give his friends reason to buy that particular issue.
"Clay really gave up being named 'the best player in the country' at his position. It was a witness to people in the football program who wouldn't have known about Clay's faith," said Purvis. "One Christian teammate said, 'I don't know if I could have turned it down.'"
Shiver cited Luke 12:48 as another reason for his decision.
"I don't want to let anyone down, and No. 1 on that list is God," he said.
Shiver, 38, was recently named head coach at Boca Raton Christian High School, a program that had 16 players on the roster a year ago and canceled games because of it.
He started for the 1993 national champions, with quarterback Charlie Ward. Shiver was a three-time all-ACC selection and a two-time winner of the Jacobs Trophy, given to the best blocker in the ACC.
The Seminoles went 43-5-1 during his tenure and never finished lower that No. 4 in the final AP poll.
He was elected to the FSU Athletics Hall of Fame in 2001.
Shiver was the pastor at Morningstar Christian Church after leaving the gridiron and recently was the director of Rocketown, a youth ministry in Pompano Beach.
He is working on a master's degree in history and will teach at the school.
(Mathison, a Weirton resident, is the sports editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)