[See photo credit at end of article]
Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart led the USC Trojans to a national Championship in 2004 before signing on as an NFL Quarterback with the Arizona Cardinals earlier this year. Yet Matt Leinart has strabismus just like us.
Matt had strabismus surgery when he was a very small child. He had another strabismus surgery before he entered high school. For us adults who must see a pediatric eye specialist for treatment of our strabismus, we can take heart. The prestigious 6’5″ quarterback Matt Leinart is sitting in a pediatric waiting room along with us twice a year for his regular checkups with his pediatric ophthalmologist.
Matt says he was teased and tormented by other kids because of his crossed eyes as he was growing up. Even some adults have never matured past the cruelty of childhood bantering. One reporter had some pretty harsh words to say about Matt’s strabismus: “…poor Matt had to wear glasses as a child,” and “THAT was what he had to overcome,” this reporter quipped in a September, 2004, writeup. He goes on to say that Matt had strabismus that made his eye go “a little cross-eyed.” The reporter continues, “I know all about strabismus,” and lists as his qualifications that he himself has a “mild case” of strabismus and his wife is an Ophthalmic Technician.
I emailed this reporter in January of this year when I first started working on this piece, and told him that I also have “a little strabismus.” Here is part of what I wrote to him:
Every one of us has endured childhood problems that we bring with us to adulthood. I’m sure you have had your share. I don’t have much sympathy for those who want to use their childhood as an excuse. But I am certainly willing to reach out a hand and try to support someone who is doing their best to get past their childhood pain by making something out of their life. Some, like Matt Leinart, even dare to share the pain of their rejection as children to help lift others up.
People who wake up with severly turned eyes in the morning and go to bed with harsh rejection at night, and have even the adults in their life knock them down with cruel jibes… they are the ones who know all about it. You and I can’t possibly know until we have walked a mile in their shoes. Or perhaps a decade or two. Day in, day out, no reprieve.
I asked this reporter to reconsider almost 8 months ago, but I’ve not heard back from him, and the article he wrote is still there. I have decided not to include his name in this story, because it is not my intent to fuel the search engines with harsh comments about him. However, you can read his article yourself by clicking here. You’ll need to scroll about halfway down to the topic “Now, on to THE OLD CRYSTAL BALL!” Alternatively, you can do a page search for “leinart.” I do hope this reporter takes another look at this issue.
I also hope this piece causes others to stop and think about how painful it must be for people who are doing their best with the limitations they have to be taunted so unmercifully. And for those on the receiving end, remember, the problem lies with the teaser, and not with the teased. The teaser is playing his worst game every time. You get out there and play your best game, and you’re already a step ahead.
Here are more links that I used to gather information for this item:
Matt Leinart bio from Wikipedia
South Florida Sun-Sentinel’s writeup about Matt’s visits to his pediatric ophthalmologist.
From RealFootball365: Coach Green on Leinart: California tough.
Sports Illustrated’s July 25, 2005, story: First Person: Matt Leinart, USC Quarterback.