JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — There have been a lot of iconic father-son duos who have passed through sports in the Inland Northwest, but no father-son duo is in the spotlight right now quite like Gardner and Flint Minshew.
"Really the lesson I remember over and over and over again is you can only control how hard you work," reflected Gardner on the most important lesson Flint taught him as a kid.
As Flint recalls, Gardner took that lesson to heart.
"I remember him wanting me to beat up other kids dads who wouldn't bring them to practice when they would screw up in games," said Flint with a chuckle. "He correlated at an early age working to success, and that's really what you want out of any of your kids playing sports."
It’s obvious Gardner and Flint still follow that train of thought. That doesn’t mean though that the pair can’t be surprised when success comes earlier than scheduled, like when Gardner was pushed into service in his first ever NFL game.
"After the Kansas City game, we both went and ate downtown. I just remember sitting down, and we're both sitting there, and we're just like, ‘What the hell just happened?’ We were able to just share that moment and reflect on that. Just having him there for all those moments has been a lot of fun," said Gardner.
It’s definitely been a crazy year for the former WSU quarterback. Flint is impressed with how his son has handled it.
"The Lord puts on us what we can handle, and I think if I would have been that famous I would have been like Elvis in a jumpsuit with tassels and everything else," said Flint with a laugh.
"I’ve only worn one jumpsuit so far," interjected Gardner, talking about the jumpsuit he wore to the Alamo Bowl.
"Well, I’d have had one for every day of the week," quipped Flint.
Flint's got a taste of fame too. He’s at an age now though that thankfully no jumpsuits have been harmed. Cameras were trained on the proud papa at nearly every NFL game last year.
"Oh, it's funny. People who see him on TV are surprised at how big he is. They wonder why I don't look like that. I still don't know that," said Gardner. "I'm just glad during games they just have cameras and no mics, because I think if we had mics, we might be in trouble."
"The one time they did mic me up at Stanford, one of Gardner’s buddy’s, Houston, asked the lady, ‘Look, I hope you have a seven second delay cause there might be some things said that you don’t want to hear,'" recalled Flint.
"They couldn't use any of it," said Gardner with a laugh.
When cameras are trained on the other Minshew, there’s still an ode to his dad on the back of his jersey. He dons “Minshew II” because he is named after his father.
"I love being able to carry that on the back my jersey, Minshew II, to me that’s just kind of a testament to my dad. I know that he prepared me so well, really pushed me, and gave me so many opportunities. To me, it's kind of a tribute to him and a payback to him knowing that we really got here together," said Gardner.
And they’ll continue to be there together through thick and thin.
"My worth is not conditional to how I play. I'm loved no matter what. As long as I'm doing what I'm supposed to do and giving my best effort, I'm loved and he's proud of me. Whether if I’m throwing a bunch of touchdowns or throwing a bunch of picks, I know I’m loved. All the fame and everything doesn't really change that," said Gardner.
That brings us back to where we started in this story, talking about father-son lessons.
"There's no greater influence on my life. I don't think there's any way I’d have made it to where I am today if I hadn't learned those lessons that y’all have heard about. You can only control how hard you work. You're either getting better or you're getting worse. I know for a fact that if I hadn’t have heard those growing up, I wouldn’t be here today," said Gardner.