That I couldn't disagree with. Yep, he got me there. So I went on to the next point.
"And you know what? Your defensive line got worse every single game. Don't believe me, then look at the film, coach. Look at the damn film."
As I was saying this, I could see the defensive coordinator, Coach Joe, perking up. The only decent thing about my harangue was that none of the players saw it. But I knew there was a chance Coach Joe was going to explode on me. He started to tell me to move on. I said to him, "I knew you were going to get in the middle of this, Joe. This isn't about you —"
And right there, I knew it had to end. I pursed my lips, turned away from the coaches, and put both my hands up in the air.
"I'm done," I said.
I walked over to 35 on the field.
"C'mon, we're walking," I said. "I just gave coach a piece of my mind."
He started walking with me, but before we got to the parking lot, he stopped.
"Dad, I don't want to go," he said. "I want to be with my team."
I told him OK, go ahead. I'll see him later at the car.
My confrontation with the coach was liberating, but at that moment, all the frustration washed away. I was a little awestruck by the kid. He had kept playing with all he had no matter how useless it all seemed. He stuck by his team even when it abandoned him.
His team may have been beaten, but he didn't let this lost season beat him. He didn't let the disease get him — and that was all the cure I needed.