Detroit Lions wide receiver Marvin Jones caught a touchdown pass in the back corner of the end zone at Ford Field on Friday, an ordinary play for any NFL receiver during training camp.
Instead of quarterback Matthew Stafford making the throw, however, it was 14-year-old Calder Hodge.
The incoming high school freshman suffered from fibular hemimelia, a rare birth defect, and had both of his legs amputated when he was 3. But he loves football, and Stafford is his favorite player.
On Friday, Hodge just thought he was headed to watch Stafford and the rest of the Lions’ quarterbacks work out on the field.
“They were walking me over to the sidelines so I could watch the quarterbacks warm up and Matthew Stafford called me over and it just all happened,” Hodge said, via ESPN’s Michael Rothstein. “He said, all right, you want to throw a fade ball? And I said yeah.”
So he did, and he hit Jones perfectly.
— Detroit Lions (@Lions) August 2, 2019
Instantly, the team swarmed Hodge.
“It was awesome, you know,” Stafford said, via ESPN. “But as cool as it was for him, it's just as cool or maybe cooler for us. He's getting to come out here and throw a touchdown pass to Marvin Jones, but just seeing what he's gone through in his life up to this point and how he's had such an amazing attitude and overcome so much, it's really kind of inspirational for us.
“I'm sure it's a big deal for him. But man, we watched a video about him today in our team meeting and it was incredible. It was cool to have him out here.”
Hodge plays football himself, and dreams of becoming the first double amputee quarterback in the NFL. He plays with two special prosthetics that have computerized knees, according to ESPN, which offer more stability and control.
"I'm not too fast. I'm a pocket quarterback,” Hodge said, via ESPN. “I mean, I run as fast as I can."
After sticking around for training camp on Sunday, Hodge will start practice at Legacy the School of Sports Sciences just north of Houston on Monday. There, he’ll get a chance to play football for real for what feels like the first time.
Naturally, Hodge is thrilled.
“It means the world,” Hodge said, via ESPN. “Now I have an actual chance to go out and fight for a starting job to fulfill my dream of playing football.”
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