As first reported by Dallas-Fort Worth Fox affiliate KDFW, 12-year-old Mesquite resident Elijah Earnheart is being kept on the sidelines of all Pee Wee football activities because he's simply too big. Despite being a young seventh-grader, Earnheart is already 6-feet tall and weighs in around 300 pounds, a total which is more than twice the maximum allowable Pee Wee weight of 135 pounds.
Earnheart had been practicing with the Mesquite Vikings, a Pee Wee team in the Mesquite Pee Wee league, until a preseason weigh-in deemed him ineligible. His coach with the Vikings, Marc Wright, is reportedly protesting the decision to ban the middle schooler, though early indications from Mesquite Pee Wee Football Association officials are that there won't be any leniency granted for Earnheart's weight.
Rather, the league says that all players above 135 pounds should play in the school league, an opportunity which Earnheart has been eschewing for a pretty logical reason: He's never played football before, and everyone else in the school league has a wealth of experience (this is Texas, after all).
"I don't want to play in school right now because it's people that's had experience and I want to get some experience first and then start playing," Earnheart told KDFW. "I just want to play because my teammates are my friends. I know them. I don't want to go play for somebody else I don't know."
Earnhart's emotional commitment to the Pee Wee league has been supported by Wright and Earnheart's mother, both of whom have begun wearing homemade T-shirts and wielding signs emblazoned with "Let Elijah Play."
So far, those pleas have done little to sway Mesquite Pee Wee Football Association President Ronnie Henderson.
"The coach over there should have known this. He's been told this. He's been to our meetings. He knows this. I don't know where the misunderstanding was. We hate it. I don't like it for the kid or the parents," he said.
Whether or not Earnhart is allowed to play in the Mesquite Pee Wee league remains to be seen. Still, if he can't, at 300 pounds by the age of 12 it seems likely he'll get another shot at competitive football in the future, should he desire it.