Just when I’ve lost interest in pro football, at least until the Broncos’ next season opener, I stumble across The Cauldron and a couple of thoughtful pieces written by NFL players.
I’m interested again.
My own football career ended after my second year in high school as a practice squad blocking dummy who rarely played in games, but I’ve always been a fan. An Iowa Hawkeyes fan since elementary school, when I listened to the late Jim Zabel call their games, mostly disappointing losses, on the radio.
I cheered for the Bears, the Vikings, the Packers, the Chiefs and the St. Louis Rams, all the Midwestern teams that surrounded us there in pro-deprived Iowa. Irrationally, I know, I detested the Cowboys, and I never understood why my sister Kathie did not.
Broncomania is contagious, as I learned when we moved to Colorado a few years ago. Tim Tebow was the QB when I saw my first Broncos game in person, courtesy of my daughter, Sarah. (A loss to the dreaded Patriots.) Then along came Peyton Manning, with passing glory and ultimate frustration.
I don’t recall a player saying anything very real or revealing in all those years. They said the routine press conference stuff or goofed in commercials and that seemed about it. I knew them only from sportswriter critiques, won-loss records, individual stats, injury reports, highlight-reel hits and catches, movies, and shocking headlines and stories about their misdeeds, both real and rumored.
I suspected, of course, on the rare occasions that I thought about them at all as real people, that there was more to them than skill and brutal collisions and lots of money.
The two pieces that got my attention are about how they live in and cope with the always-on glare of social media. DeAngelo Williams and Golden Tate explain it quite nicely.
Originally published on Medium, January 17, 2015.