The Best that Never Was

A documentary that is worth watching debuted on ESPN late last year.

The Best that Never Was is more of a human interest story than one of a sports.

It focuses on the life of Marcus Dupree, an amazing athlete from a small town in Mississippi, who during the 1980s was one of the most heavily recruited football players of all time.

Marcus was bigger, stronger, and faster than any of his peers. 

He was what scouts described as a phenom--a talent that is seen once in a lifetime.

Marcus Dupree was a "can't miss kid."

But he did.

In short, a lack of maturity, injuries, and persons wanting to exploit his talents resulted in him never achieving athletic greatness (Note: I was glad that substance abuse was not an issue; one that has been a challenge for so many).

Marcus played just over one year of football for the University of Oklahoma before he quit the team, and returned home.

He then played two years professionally, but suffered a major injury that nearly ended his career. 

When he finished football after another two-year stint; he was a good player, but nowhere near the legend that everyone thought they would see.

 And after his sports career was over, still a young man, he returned home and drove trucks.

"Whom the gods wish to destroy they first call promising."  --Cyril Connolly, Enemies of Promise

Even today, Marcus still regularly deals with people recognizing and reminding him of what could have/should have been in sports.

It must be a difficult burden.

Despite the disappointment, Marcus is thankful for the opportunities that he had, obviously wishes that things had gone differently, but is content with his current life.

That of a quiet existence away from the limelight.


The story got me thinking of my own life.

What dream for the future did I have as a child?

At what was I was going to be the greatest?

What dream went unfulfilled?

My answer is a geologist.

Ok, so it was not the most glamorous dream, but the thought of digging in the dirt all day and finding precious gems and fossils was a star that I was once shooting for.

I read rock books.  I studied charts and photos, and soon impressed everyone with my new found knowledge. 

Anyway, things changed, and I chose criminal justice as a field. 

But that child with the the shovel and bucket wanting to find a shiny stone still resides inside of me.

Fortunately, our kids will let me take them on a fossil hunt--at least a small taste of what might have been.


So, is there a profession that you could have been one of the greatest at had you pursued it? 

Is there an unfulfilled career aspiration that you dreamed of as a child?   


Jennifer Hillier said...

I remember this documentary. I'm glad that he's happy with his life now.

Well, I always wanted to be a writer. Whether I'll be the "greatest" at it, I don't know. But the fact that I get to do something I love every day is a pretty great accomplishment! :)

Miss Caitlin S. said...

Sounds like an interesting documentary (I love documentaries). Gosh, there's so many fields I always thought I would do. Be a Vet, a Writer, a Publicist, etc. I'm in Insurance Finance now and though it's a good job, it's so different from what I thought! However, I still utilize my own time for my creative manifestations. Also, that's so cute you wanted to be a Geologist. My favorite (and only) joke about the topic is: Geology Rocks!!

Brian Miller said...

actually criminal justice was my childhood dream...but dreams changed along the way...still chasing a few...the whole writer thing ffor sure.

Elena said...

I've always wanted to be an author. Family came first so I squeezed writing in here and there. I even managed to write a column for two years at my local newspaper, but it wasn't really being an "author."

Having spent the last three years working on a book, the lifestyle I imagined it would be is very different than what I now know it is. It's a lonely and humbling profession, which fills one with self doubts, especially as the querying begins. I wonder if my skin will be thick enough. Who knew writing the darn thing would be the easy part?

Sorta Southern Single Mom said...

I'll have to find and watch this... it reminded me a bit of one of the players mentioned in the book "Friday Night Lights."

Honestly, I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up.

Z Joya said...

we'll never fathom life. we reflect our views on other people, but it's the individual who does the choosing. life is meant to be lived by us. people pleasing is the hardest dream to achieve. thanks, sir!:)

Herding Cats said...

I've always wanted to be on Broadway. Seriously though, I don't sing, dance, or act, but I can really belt out "Circle of Life" in my car on the way to work. Maybe being a teacher is a "smaller" way to rock the stage :)

Beth Zimmerman said...

This sort of reminded me of a song by Chris Sligh called "Empty Me." There's a line in there that haunts me :

I've had just enough of the spotlight, when it burns bright To see how it gets in the blood And I've tasted my share of the sweet life and the wild ride, And found a little is not quite enough.

I think I'm glad that I didn't have that time in the spotlight. I suspect that it would have destroyed me.

I never really had a focused dream, of one particular career. I just wanted to love and be loved ... and to eventually leave a record, a mark that I had been here, on the world around me. Still working on that!

Bob G. said...

I wanted to be everything from a cowboy to an astronaut (plus lots in-between...
If I thought about the missed opportunities, I'd probably bum myself out a LOT.

As it is, I try to always view the way things turned out, and how they COULD have been a lot worse, had I taken an easier path, or set my goals a lot lower.

Still, we can always desire more than we seek in life...that's human nature.

Marcus just had the fate of being saddled with unforeseen situations, and YET...he has made the best of it that he could.
It's rather remarkable that he did what he did, but better still that he DOES what he does today.

Any maybe, it's that quiet existence that we all REALLY want.
Excellent post and great comments.

Stay safe out there.

J. J. in Phila said...

Some people really flourish away from the limelight.

He had a great achievement being able to play in the NFL for several years.

Dawn said...

I find it so encouraging when I hear it said that someone is "content" regardless of how things have turned out. I only wish I could learn that "contentedness thing" a bit more...

Good thinking material here.

Lydia K said...

I'm glad he didn't turn to the dark side--drugs or other behavior that can happen to those who touch the limelight and then leave it too quickly.

I would have loved to have been a professional dancer or gymnast--I had the build for it, but I'm really glad I didn't. An athletic career is risky, for so many reasons.

jodeeluna said...

My eyes got misty when I read your post. Boy can I relate with your account of a dream that never materialized.

Although you never found your heart’s desire, I can see you as a geologist of another sort. You turn over every rock as you search for solutions to solve missing persons mysteries. Maybe your hunting found its fulfillment among living treasures, those loved by family and friends and yet forgotten by the world.

My dream deferred was the co-owner of an arts and craft business that my sister and I spent 5 years building. We had to abandon ship when the income did not pay the bills. I think a part of me still wants to play in those waters.

joanny said...


Life only demands from us the strength we possess -- only one feat is possible and that is not to have to run away...

It appears he did not run away, but everybody wants a piece of the blazing star... a shame it happens too often to a lot of good folks.

A nice talent you possess love of nature and a curious (researcher) mind, geology as a hobby is a wonderful thing to share with your children/family.
Here in the Pacific Northwest is a treasure of gems of easy to explore. However in your neck of the woods, if you are near Arkansas, The Natural State, is blessed with an abundance of geological wonders. Crater of Diamonds State Park, the only diamond-producing site in the world open to the public, stands out as a unique geological "gem" for you to explore and enjoy with your family and I believe you are allowed to take some diamonds home with you that you find, unlike other state park lands.


MONICA-LnP said...

i wanted to be a truck driver,why I cant seem to remember and I dont even like to drive!

Maxi said...

How sad that Marcus has to deal with people reminding him of coulda, shoulda instead of what he did accomplish.

Jenny said...

Ths sounds like a wonderful document to hope and determination.

Lisa said...

Fortunate the person who can be content with his/her life regardless of the twists of fate.

Midlife Jobhunter said...

My husband and I watched this documentary. Such a sad tale. As for me, I dreamed of being an Olympic ice skater. Peggy Fleming. Unfortunately, I lived in small town Minnesota and the skating rinks were outside. No pretty little costumes. Snowpants and mufflers. Frozen toes.