Last week I finished the four most grueling weeks in football. A period of time when 90 players are fighting for 53 spots. A period when you leave family, friends, and normalcy behind and devote your all to Making The Cut.
Everyone knows about the glitz and glamour of the NFL—the money, the celebrity, and the privileges the game affords you. But what few people realize is that many hopes are shot down and dreams are crushed on the way to simply making the roster.
Though I’m not a big fan of reality TV, HBO’s Hard Knocks does a pretty good job of shedding light on what really goes on during training camp. Players have a few short weeks to show the coaches their skills, and if they don’t get the job done, they are cut from the team with their NFL dreams being very short lived. People may think that it’s easy to focus one’s attention for a few weeks on something so important, but let me give you a few real examples of how it’s not.
As we started our morning Bible study, I asked if anyone had anything going on that they would like us to pray for. One situation in particular stood out the most. “Yeah, well today is our first practice, so pray for that. And also today is the day that my mom starts chemo. Please pray for her during that process as well. Thanks guys.”
Another teammate experienced the joy of seeing his child born, but, in an effort to continue to show his stuff, left the next day to play in a game.
Countless other NFL players suffered season- or career-ending injuries. Or, most likely, they were among the many who heard the dreaded words, “Coach needs to see you. Bring your playbook.”
It’s a tough, grueling experience—it stretches you further than you think you can go. But I’m here to tell you it’s totally worth it.
The reasons why it’s worth it varies for everyone, but for me, it’s all about Week 1. Monday Night Football against the San Diego Chargers. Fighting together with my teammates for victory. And then Week 2. And on it goes.
The memories, the friendships, the journey—this is why I do what I do. Is it hard? Yes. Is it worth it? You better believe it.
See you on the grass.