Trying to play a 297-pound 12-year-old has resulted in a Mesquite, Texas, youth football coach being relieved of his job.
Marc Wright, former coach of the Vikings of the Mesquite Pee Wee Football Association, told KDFW-FOX 4 he was let go by his team president for supporting the efforts of 6-foot-1, 297-pound Elijah Earnheart to play for the team.
Earnheart, a seventh-grader, is well over the league’s weight limit of 135 pounds for players 11-12 years old and in seventh or eighth grade.
Although he can play middle school football or for another youth league, Earnheart’s story has drawn national attention – and a pink slip for his coach.
“It makes me feel bad because I call myself supporting one of my players,” Wright told the television station. “The same guy who let me go told me this is what you are supposed to do as a head coach. You are supposed to support every single one of your players.”
Earnheart’s mother said she is angry about the firing because the youth league’s weight limit is not clear.
“Our rules are very clear,” association president Ronnie Henderson said. “It says right there in black and white, if you’re in seventh or eighth grade or 11 or 12 years old in the seventh or eighth grade, and your weight is over 135 you cannot participate in our league.”
Earnheart has gotten offers to play from other youth teams in the Dallas area. If he elected to play middle-school football, he would still dwarf most opposing players.
However, Earnheart has never played football before and wants to gain experience before joining a school team. He had been practicing with the Vikings and said he wants to play on that team with his friends.
“What I’m fighting for is to play on my team that I want to play for,” Earnheart told FOX 4.