Robious Corridor

Robious Corridor


The Eighth Day

Brian McCall

HelmetWhile I was playing football I learned a lot about life.  I learned very early on that there are three kinds of people in this world.  There are the spectators, there are the stars, and then, there are the linemen. 

The spectators in life do pretty much the same thing that the spectators do at a football game.  They watch the game and then they cheer or they criticize, making a whole lot of noise in the process.  When the team wins, they say, “We won!”  And when the team loses, they say, “They lost.”

The stars in life do pretty much the same thing that the stars do in a football game.  They are usually the players who get to touch the ball at some point in the game.  They score the touchdowns.  They make the big plays.  We all know them, because they are the most talked about players on the team.  The stars, many people think, determine if a team wins the game or loses the game.  When the team wins, they say, “I won!”  And when the team loses, they say, “We lost.”

The linemen in life do pretty much the same thing that the linemen do in a football game.  They are the ones that do what the spectators and the stars are not able to do.  The lineman do everything else.  The spectators make the noise.  But you can play a football game without the spectators.  The stars score the points.  But you can play a game without the stars too because the linemen will figure out a way to score the points.  You see, the linemen don’t care who scores the points.  All that the linemen want to do is win.  And when the team wins, they say, “We won!”  And when they lose, they say, “We lost.”  I am a lineman.  Brian McCall was a lineman too. 

I once had a coach who played football before he became a Jesuit priest.  He had a different take on the creation story.  It went something like this, “…and on the seventh day the Lord rested because He knew on the eighth day He had to create people to do the hard work, and He called them linemen.”  That coach would always go on to say, “No one knows about that because the linemen didn’t care if anyone knew about them or not, they just cared about getting the job done.”

footballUnwilling to sit in the stands and watch the game of life, Brian had to get in the game.  To become a lineman you have to be strong.  So Brian started working to make himself strong.  You do not get strength.  Strength is built. It is built day after day. It takes a lot of sweat, a lot of effort, and a lot of pain.  Day after day after day. Until one day, Brian woke up and found that he was strong.  Strong enough to take the field.  He needed a team, though, so he joined the team at Bon Air Baptist Church.  Brian was a lineman.

Like all rookies, Brian made some mistakes.  Like all linemen, he learned from his mistakes.   He learned from the other linemen on his team too. That is how linemen learn. He learned what worked and he learned what didn’t.  He learned from the people who came before him. And he put what he learned into action when he spearheaded the charge to get the James River Campus of the Bon Air Baptist Church up and running.

When linemen find something that works for them, they not only keep doing it, they find ways to do it better.  So Brian helped to found Bridging RVA.  A local nonprofit group that helps those who need help the most.  He didn’t do that for fame.  Nor for fortune.  He did that because it was the right thing to do.  He did that, not because he could,  Brian did that because he should.  Brian did that because that is what linemen do.  They do the grunt work, the work no one else wants to do, the work that is required to make things happen.  They do the work that is required to win. That is what linemen do.

Work is not the only thing a lineman does.  Lineman teach too.  Old linemen show the new linemen the ropes.  They test them first to see if they have what it takes to be a lineman.  And if they pass the test, the teaching begins.  The old linemen lead by example and the young linemen follow.  Brian was an old lineman when he started a recovery house to help those young linemen who needed to be shown how it was done.  How to use the tools that God had given them to do the right thing.  No matter how hard it may be, a lineman does his job.  In the trenches.  In the mud. In the heat and in the cold. In the rain and in the snow.  When the other players leave the field for a rest, the linemen remain.  They grind on.  Working together to win.  Because that is what linemen do.

Brian McCallThe brotherhood that is formed among linemen is strong.  It lasts forever.  It transcends the team to include all linemen, because only another lineman can understand the struggle of the linemen.  They appreciate each other in world where their work goes unnoticed.  There is no hall of fame for linemen.  There are two reasons for that.  The first is that no self-respecting lineman would allow himself to be held above his brothers. The second reason is that there is no building large enough to house all of the linemen worthy of being in a hall of fame.  The only hall of fame Brian sought is the hall of fame that he is in right now.  Because that is where linemen go.

Football, like life, involves a great deal of pain.  Linemen are not judged by how pain affects them, they are judged by how it doesn’t.  They are expected to play through pain, like Brian did.  They do not do what they want to do, they do what needs to be done. They sacrifice their bodies for the good of the team.  In the name of victory.  For linemen, it is an honor to be on the field of play.  A hard fought and well-earned privilege.  An honor.  And only when a lineman is faced with no other choice, due to injury or due to ALS, will he ever leave that field.  And when he leaves that field the only thing that he will take with him is his honor, because he will have left everything else on the field.

Because on the eighth day God created the people to do the hard work, and He called them linemen.  Brian McCall was a lineman.  His honor he took with him.  Everything else, he gave to us.


A memorial service and reception to celebrate Brian’s life will be held at the James River Campus of Bon Air Baptist Church, 2440 Hancroft Dr., Midlothian, Va., today, April 9, at 3 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, Brian’s wish was for donations to be made to one of two memorial funds set up in his name at Bridging RVA or Bon Air Baptist Church James River Campus. These funds will be used to further advance good in our community in memory of Brian.

written by Tony Young

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