MACK BROWN: Why I'm Leaving Football

By: Mack Brown

My announcement of retirement earlier this month came at a time of sharp scrutinization of my coaching capabilities. While it may look like angry fans and school administrators have pressured me into this retirement, the act is actually out of personal choice. I want to be true to myself by not ignoring my desires, for football was never my true calling. My true passion has always been and will always be for musical theatre.

I knew since a young age that theatrical performance was for me. But 1950s Tennessee was a different place then and it was hard to express yourself outside of football and hogtying. As a child, I’d write little songs that I’d later privately sing to myself in the shower. I grew up in a household that aimed to instill heteronormative values. To my father, musical theatre was inherently a feminine activity. One day Poppa found my tap shoes that I hid under a bale of hay in the barn. He gave me a scalding for taking part in that “sissy frolic”. On that day he traded in my tap shoes for a pair of cleats and from then on, under Poppa’s watchful eye, my life became dedicated solely to football.

I grew complacent with the activity. After playing the sport came coaching it. I don’t know when one activity flowed into the other since my mind had grown so numb to the sport. A couple of seasons ago before some game, I don’t remember which, I tinkered with my headset so that it could play music. Every game since then, I’ve been listening to Broadway classics on the sideline in lieu of the voices of my assistant coordinators. I apologize for neglecting my coachly duties by ignoring my offensive and defensive coordinators, and by failing to communicate with Case McCoy and David Ash as they stumbled about the field with a lack of direction. It may have looked like I was yelling out plays through the headset, but I was really just belting along with Sweeney Todd, Fantine, Tevye, or some other favorite musical character of mine.

New York City is a big and scary place, but it is the epicenter of musical theatre and I have big Broadway dreams, so I have to jump right in and start hustling. It’s gotten so expensive to live in New York, though. Luckily I’ve been saving up for this move little by little over the years. Each year I’ve been setting aside a bit of cash from my annual five million dollar salary, which should help me get by New York’s skyscraper-high cost of living for a little bit. I’ll also be renting out a small one bedroom apartment in ungentrified Harlem because damn is it hard to find a cheap place to live in Manhattan!

The stage is a miraculous haven for the imagination, as opposed to the football field, where dreams get knocked out and replaced with concussions. I can’t lie to myself anymore; writing football plays is not the same as writing musicals. I may be remembered among Texas’ greatest football coaches, but I really want to be remembered among the Broadway greats. After tonight’s Alamo Bowl, I have a one-way flight booked for New York. I will finally get to pursue my lifelong dream of being a playwright and actor of the musical stage. I can already see myself in that list of legends! Stephen Sondheim, Richard Rodgers & Oscar Hammerstein, Mack Brown.

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