From your 15-year-old sophomore who has his sights set on the varsity team, to the 35-year-old accountant who loves to get together over wings with his friends and recount tales of their glory days, football players share a common bond, and an understanding that most outsiders will never fully comprehend. If you have played – or currently play – tackle football, you’ll know these 9 things to be absolutely true.
1. We’re Not Dumb Jocks
A common misconception about football players is that we’re nothing more than oversized meat heads. While I can’t say that every team is chock full of future rocket scientists, understanding the nuances of your typical football game are difficult for anyone, better yet a team full of idiots. Understanding complex coverage schemes, line stunts, or perfect execution of the read option is the sporting equivalent of brain surgery. Each step requires real brain power, and it’s certainly not something a monkey in a helmet could do.
2. You’re Nothing Without Your Team
Football is an intricate game that involves a lot of moving parts. Small mis-cues in timing, a slip and fall, or a single mistake can be the difference between victory and defeat. As such, each of those 11 guys has a responsibility to themselves, and their teammates to ensure that they are giving 110% on each and every play. No matter how good your star player is, he’s nothing without the 11 guys around him working in perfect harmony. You must learn to love, and appreciate the other 10 guys that make each of your personal victories possible.
3. “People Running into Each Other” is a Gross Misrepresentation of the Game
Football played by well-coached teams is less about big men running into brick walls, and more about amazing athletes executing a complexly orchestrated dance that requires perfection in execution from each of the 11 players on the field. Once you understand the game, and the strategy behind it, you begin to see football for what it really is – art.
4. Kickers Are Slightly “Off”
While they only work a few times a game, kickers are among the most colorful creatures on the planet. Whether pacing the sidelines and talking to themselves, or angrily punching the ground after a missed tackle on a punt return – kickers are tortured souls that nobody fully understands, yet they’re completely indispensable at the same time.
5. We Work Hard – Really Hard
High school and college football players start to practice in the dead of summer with full pads and 90+ degree heat. To make matters worse, they often practice before and after school in the weeks leading up to the first game of the season. While you’re hitting the snooze button and dreading the thought of finding a dirty pair of pants to put on to make it to first hour, football players have been hard at work since the pre-dawn hours. No matter how hard the work, we come prepared to work – a trait that serves us well off the football field too.
6. If Kickers Are “Off” – Linebackers Are Completely Nuts
What do you get when you put one of the most athletic, biggest, and most vocal guys right of a football field? A linebacker. These guys are like kickers in the sense that there is something not quite right about them, but while the kicker is a rather quiet sort of disturbed, linebackers are loud, rowdy, and they like to hit things – hard. As crazy as they often are, linebackers are the heart and soul of most defenses, and they are truly special due to their mix of athletic ability, craziness, and leadership qualities.
7. We Really Do Love Our Teammates and Coaches
The camaraderie you feel for the players around you is unmatched by any other situation in modern life. These players have all become more like family than just teammates or friends, and through intense workouts, victories, failure and everything in between, these are the guys that keep you balanced, and build you up when you begin to crumble.
8. These Memories Will Provide Story Fodder for Years to Come
It doesn’t matter how old a man becomes, football always provides a story that they can whip out for any situation and at any time, without a second thought. Daughters wedding? Check. Business meeting? Double check. There’s no such thing as an ex-football player, just a not-actively-participating football player.
9. It Doesn’t Last Forever
No matter how much we wish it would, your glory days on the gridiron are far too short-lived for most of our tastes. While the stories are forever, your playing days aren’t. Enjoy every minute of it while you still can.
Featured photo credit: situnek34 via flickr.com