Plays from the heart

There has always been the bashing of professional sports players and coaches who stopped playing for the love of the game, and just showed up to make their millions. Not saying they don’t care, but…do they give it their all?

For our local football team, the Raven’s have started to play not only for themselves, but for a kid who would die to switch places with them for a day…and the sad thing is, he might.

Matthew Costello, a 14-year-old Loyola High School football and baseball player has been the guy behind the scenes for some of the end of the season offensive plays that ended well for Baltimore. The first play called by Costello was in the game against the Chicago Bears–a win that was needed to keep the playoff bid alive for the Ravens. A faked hand-off and throw to tight-end Todd Heap resulted in a 14-yard touchdown…later Baltimore would go on to win 31-7. A big noted play was that huge 83-yard rush touchdown by Ray Rice against the New England Patriots…a play set up by this local teen.

Who is Costello, and why is this 14-year-old kid taking the reigns for the offense in his hands? Baltimore’s offensive coodinator, Cam Cameron, has a son who goes to school with Costello at Loyola High School in Towson, MD. He informed his father of Costello’s inoperable brain tumor, and his courage and strength as he handles something incomprehensible to most of us. Cameron, for those who know, went through series of scares of cancer in previous years so he could relate, and wanted to do something for Costello, and asked him what the first play of the games should be.

Costello was a ‘secret weapon’ until last week, right before the Ravens played the Colts in the playoffs on Saturday night. After hearing a story like this, how can you not be a Raven’s fan? They are not only playing for love of the game, but are playing for Costello, to make his plays happen as we, as Baltimorians, should all pray and hope and believe not only in our team, but also this kid given a chance of a lifetime and a reason to keep a dream and hope of life stay afloat.

Next time you watch a game and think your favorite player is being lazy or not trying hard enough–think of Costello. None of us ever give 100% all the time at everything we do. These players are also at work every weekend as we cheer them on. If they miss a pass or fumble the ball, before screaming profanities at the screen,keep in mind that there is always something we don’t see behind the scenes. And our Ravens were playing for a kid who never gave up on his favorite football team, despite a quasi decent season and the hardships life is throwing his way at such a young age.

When I heard this story, it reminded me of a favorite quote when I was competing in a variety of sports in previous years: “Somewhere behind the athlete you’ve become and the hours of practice and the coaches who’ve pushed you, is the little girl who fell in love with the game and never looked back… Play for her…”

You started out either playing or watching a sport because you loved it…don’t give up on that passion.


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