I Broke the Quarterback’s Finger

May our plans, hopes, and dreams for the coming year be established on a foundation that has eternal perspective! While total perfection may likely elude most of us during the next twelve months, our game plan for the next year must surely call for an improvement because you and I believe in eternal progression, which contemplates a constant striving for day-to-day improvement in our lives. Anything less than that is counter to Heavenly Father’s divine plan.

I can almost hear some of you saying at this very moment, “It’s all so futile. Here I am only five days into the new year, and already I’ve goofed twice.” Young people, I want to assure you that you’re not too far from par for the course. Just about everybody has had a bad start sometime or another.

Speaking of getting off to a bad start, I think I hold the record. As I was watching the Rose Bowl game on television the other day, I had a flashback of something that happened to me many years ago on a high school football field not too far from that Rose Bowl. It was my first year of high school football. I’d been playing second string all through the practice games, and this was the first big league game. Six thousand cheering people were in the stands. As we were breaking after our halftime pep talk, the coach suddenly said, “Simpson, you start the second half.”

The old adrenaline came rushing, and I went charging out onto the field. This was my chance! Just about that time the coach said, “Oh, and by the way, I want you to kick off, Simpson.”

I determined right then and there that I was going to kick that ball farther than any football had ever been kicked in history. I really wanted to make a good showing on my first chance on the first string. Well, the referee waved his arm and blew his whistle. I could hear those six thousand people. I looked at that ball and came charging down the field. I felt everything tingling in my body—the excitement was so high!

Well, you have probably already guessed it. I missed the ball. Six thousand people went wild. But that isn’t the half of it. This was back in the days when the quarterback held the ball with his finger. I broke the quarterback’s finger.

Now, if you think that you’re off to a bad start, I just want to set your mind at ease and let you know that it could be worse. I also want you to know that I had a coach that had confidence in me, because he left me in. I don’t know why, but he did, and I played the rest of the game. If I weren’t so modest, I might also tell you that I made all-league that year.

Elder Robert L. Simpson Assistant to the Council of the Twelve Brigham Young University fireside address January 5, 1975