Wednesday Morning Ramblings – Thankful #10

I’m thankful for the opportunity to have played organized football as a young man.  Most former players would probably agree that there’s no greater sense of being alive than on the field in a game.  All of your senses are heightened, and on every single play, your physical abilities are tested against someone else’s.  There’s no way to explain it to non-players.  Like many of the greatest things in life, like becoming a parent for the first time, this experience is ineffable.  Unless you played, you simply can’t understand just how much fun it was.

Yes, it took a physical toll on my body.  My right knee is held together by scar tissue and wishes; my left shoulder has some nerve damage; from nowhere, my body sometimes reminds me of an old injury I had forgotten about.  But I wouldn’t trade the memories, experiences, and lessons earned on the field for a pristine body with no aches.  These physical ailments are just part of the price for wisdom and strength, and I gained both of these from having played the game for eight years.

At least once a week, I dream about being back on the field.  Usually, I’m at practice, preparing for an upcoming game.  Sometimes, I’m in the middle of an important game.  Regardless, I always wake with a yearning to be a teenager again, back out on the field with my chinstrap buckled tight and my teeth clamped down on my mouthpiece.  I lay awake for a few moments, savoring the dream, reliving the hits I got to dish out on ball carriers and quarterbacks.  There’s always a mix of joy and sadness after I awaken from this dream.  Happiness that I got to experience it.  Sadness that those days are gone forever.

I’m thankful for my experiences as a football player, for my coaches, for my teammates.  I loved being part of the game as I’ve never loved any other experience, and I will cherish my memories for as long as I draw breath.

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