CHICAGO - On a field of athletes, Rob Mendez stands out. Not his prowess, his perseverance. Not his moves, but his mentality. 

Born without arms and legs, Mendez is a football coach who has never run the ball, caught it or thrown it. He learned football from video games.

"I'm not a disabled coach. I'm a different coach," Mendez said.

He leads the junior varsity team at Prospect High School near San Jose. Drawing up plays the only way he can, with a stylus in his mouth. Improbable? Yes. Impossible? No way. His team went 8-2 last year.

 

Wednesday night at the ESPYs, Mendez accepted an award for perseverance, a word inadequate to describe what he's done. He spoke to a roomful of the most able bodied players on the planet about will power.

"When you dedicate yourself to something and open your mind to different possibilities and focus on what you can do instead of what you can't do, you really can go places in this world," Mendez said. "I've made it this far and who says I can't go further. That's my message tonight. Who says I can't? Nobody."

The 2019 ESPYs - Show
Rob Mendez accepts the Jimmy V Award For Perseverance onstage during The 2019 ESPYs at Microsoft Theater on July 10, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.  GETTY IMAGES