More than a few words about football

Posted: Sunday, June 24, 2007 by Travis Cody in
10


You might have noticed the new counter up top. Yes I am a proud member of Raider Nation and I'm looking forward to the new season. We've got a new head coach, Lane Kiffin, and we've cut or traded away a lot of the attitude problems from the squad. I'm not saying we're a playoff team, but we will be better than 2-14. And I expect us to be competitive too.

Oh yeah, there's a team up in the pacific northwest called the Seahawks that will probably be pretty good too. Ouch!! Excuse me just a moment while I go explain to my lady that this is MY blog and I'm NOT putting a Seahawks logo or countdown here!

Yeesh!

OK. Now yesterday, Mr Matt-Man cruised by and suggested in comments there was something laugh out loud funny about my Raiders. While I will admit that we sucked last year, I can't let it go with just a response in my comments. So I will remind everyone that I have been part of Raider Nation since I was 3 years old, that's 40 years y'all. And I will also say that my Raiders are 3-2 in Super Bowls while my buddy Matt's Bengals are a mere 0-2.

It's true that we were horribly embarrassed in 2003 by Tampa, but if memory serves - and it does - the Bengals haven't been to a Super Bowl since 1989, where they were beaten for a second time by my other favorite team, the 49ers.

Now I'm not razzing Matt or suggesting that my team's history is better than his team's history. The Raiders have been in free fall collapse since that SB thrashing in 2003 and the Bengals have been on the rise. The Bengals are a better football team today than the Raiders are.

But my boys have nowhere to go but up. And as I celebrate my 40th year as a member of Raider Nation, I'm looking for a return to Pride and Poise and a rededication to Commitment to Excellence.



But that's not what I meant to post today.

I love football. I love everything about the game.

Football players are big and tough and physical. They think they are indestructible. Give me my pads and my helmet and I'll chew steel into nails. Every football player's dream is to be carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates after winning THE game.

I left it on a stretcher with wrecked knees and unfulfilled potential.

But I don't regret playing.

Even an article about concussions and their frightening effects doesn't change that. But it does make me aware. To my knowledge I never had a concussion when I played. I know I created a few.

Hitting hard when you tackle is part of the game. You do it with proper technique. Your goal is to stop the ball carrier, not to hurt him. So there's an instant after you hit a guy...you high five your teammates and pump your fist because you made the play...and then you just glance back over your shoulder and make sure the other guy got up too.

When he doesn't...when you realize that he's still on the ground...you have a little trouble swallowing. Your mouth gets dry and your heart beats really fast. You're deflated. You're selfishly relieved that it's not you or a teammate. And then you're ashamed.

You take a few steps back toward the guy. But then the trainer sits him up. The guy raises his head and shakes it a little. The trainer pulls him to his feet. He's a little wobbly, but he's up. The crowd politely applauds as he moves off the field.

Your teammates pull you back into the huddle and you begin the process of blocking out what happened. You have to forget what you did so you can find the next ball carrier and hit him correctly and as hard as you can. Because that's what you do.

You play football.

The article by Matt Crossman of The Sporting News can be found by clicking here. What price glory, Crossman asks several times. Well, I've never heard any former football player ever say he wishes he never played.

I'm glad to see that the NFL is beginning to recognize the importance of caring for it's former players, who gave everything they had every Sunday. Today's players may make millions, but guys who toiled in the early years did not. And they certainly did not benefit from state of the art medical facilities and diagnostics.

Have you ever heard the phrase "he just got his bell rung"? My friends, that's what they used to call a concussion. And if the guy could tell the trainer how many fingers he was holding up, he went back in the game.

Many of those men are now facing dementia and other severe post-concussive symptoms. But I guarantee you that not a single one of them would say he wished he never played.

They are football players.

10 comments:

  1. julie says:

    You, my friend are the ONLY person who has ever even come remotely close to helping me understand the emotional aspects of this game.

    I guess I offer my thanks although I doubt that I will ever like the game or understand it, I do appreciate your passion for it.

    I'm still sad that it messed up your body though.

  1. honey this was about sports, right? i really really tried to read it honey but i dozed off and had to go get some cake to get back here. (just kidding you!) it was a passionate post and i respect you for posting it. i just wish it MENTIONED cake! ha ha

    smiles, bee

  1. Turnbaby says:

    Have I told you lately that I love you??

    Well if not I am damn well an idiot.

    What a great post! So real, so true..... just wonderful--SI needs pieces like this
    smooch

  1. while I add my compliments for the writing...it is just a shame you are a member of Raider Nation....me being a Forty-Nine Faithful and all.
    Smile.

  1. Travis says:

    Julie: Some guys just played the sport because they were athletes and athletes play. Others played because it was something their dads did and they wanted to play too. But others, like me, played because it was in us to play. It was a passion. And to me it seems like it was only yesterday, even though it was 26 years ago.

    Bee: It really wasn't about sports. And the CAKE keeps screwing up my template!

    Turn: Awwwww shucks darlin. Smooch.

  1. When an athlete plays for the absolute joy of playing, and NOT for the money, it shows, and THAT'S when it I get the most excited.

    I, too, am glad the NFL is taking care of their retired players. The standard salary in those days is only a smidgen of what guys make today as league minimum.

  1. Travis says:

    Katherine: Well, I have been a 49er fan for nearly 30 years. But when it comes down to cases...if they were playing each other in the Super Bowl...it's all Silver & Black for me baby!

    Desert: It's really shocking to me how hard those older NFL players have had to work to get the pensions and medical benefits that they do have.

  1. ian says:

    Aw, geez, Travis - and here I was totally liking ya. Now I'm going to have to bray like a donkey at you, because WE PWNED YOU in '06!!

    Ian
    Broncos fan

  1. Okay, this comment is for Ian, but since he brought it up as a Broncos fan, I can't help but say...hmmm..

    Jake Plummer or Peyton Manning? Jake "No longer the Snake" or Peyton "I take care of my offensive linemen who cover my ass" Manning?

    Hmmmm.....

    Desert Songbird
    Colts Fan

  1. Travis says:

    Ian: Everyone owned us in '06!

    Songbird: I can see that football season is going to be fun!