Football at any level is a breeding ground for humility, and the sport at the highest level will transform the supremely gifted into mere mortals.
Most players who have played in the National Football League get inoculated with a dose of humble pie at some point.
From a historical perspective, ask Steve Young how he enjoyed playing with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in his first NFL season after playing his first two seasons with the now-defunct USFL’s LA Express.
Long before Young hoisted the Vince Lombardi Trophy when he led the 49ers to the 49-26 win over the San Diego Chargers in Super Bowl XXIX, he took some drubbings.
After leaving the woeful Buccaneers, he competed with legendary Hall of Famer Joe Montana for playing time, and it took him five seasons before he earned the starting spot from “Joltin Joe.”
Former Denver Broncos’ quarterback and Hall of Famer John Elway experienced several failures before raising the Lombardi Trophy as a 37-year-old player after losing his first three Super Bowl appearances.
It took Elway 14 years before he finally captured a Super Bowl, and on Sunday Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa took another painful step towards NFL greatness.
Football is a microcosm of life. If you don’t think so, ask anyone who has played the sport and they will tell you.
During the 60-minute battle for supremacy, anyone who has played the game will experience a flurry of emotions: loss, despair, joy and pain before the final whistle blows. And there is only one result for all of that expended energy that matters: winning.
Tagovailoa did not win in a must-win game against the Buffalo Bills, and he and his team weren’t even close.
Pummelled 56-26, the Dolphins, who split time between 37-year-old veteran signal-caller Ryan Fitzpatrick and super rookie Tagovailoa, won’t make the playoffs.
Tagovailoa’s stat lines were unimpressive in what was essentially his first taste of postseason-style football.
Tagovailoa connected on 36 of 58 passes for 361 yards, but the most important of his basic stats was three interceptions, including one pick-six he threw to Bills’ cornerback Josh Norman in the third quarter.
Barring a catastrophic injury, Tua’s time to become an elite quarterback in the NFL will most likely come.
Beckett magazine, the international publication based out of Dallas, is making that declaration with their February cover, titled “Tua Time.”
Several hobbyists and investors in the football-card marketplace are already hedging their bets on something folks in Hawai‘i know about Tagovailoa’s future greatness.
Tagovailoa’s 2020 Panini Mosaic Tua Tagovailoa Black Refractor Rookie Auto, 1 of 1, PSA-graded 10 card sold at an eBay auction for $20,000 on Oct. 7.
Several other Tagovailoa top-end cards were sold for between $8,000 and $15,000.
Tagovailoa was a collegiate icon at one of the most prolific college programs in the history of football, and he helped guide his team to a 10-6 record. Though they didn’t qualify for the playoffs, they did better than projected.
The 30-point loss to the Bills is certainly tough to swallow, but not making the playoffs is even more difficult. It is just part of the long-charted path to greatness, and it reminds us that nothing in life is promised.
Jason Blasco, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or firstname.lastname@example.org.