November 10th, 2012 was the last game of football I will ever play in my lifetime. I wasn’t a particularly good player, hell I didn’t ever start a game my entire career in college. Well unless you count my coach giving me the start my last game (where I was only in the first series and then put back in during garbage time). I have to admit though it felt good to feel those butterflies again. That nervous/excited anticipation of playing with the game still in question, playing with my teammates and friends, but most importantly giving my parents and grandmother the moment they had been waiting to see for four years. It was strange because the decision was made by a coach I thought disliked me for the two years he was my coach. Berating me in practice, telling me I wasn’t athletic, basically saying I was a shit player. But after pregame warm-ups he told the D-Line “Just to let you guys know, Mac is getting the start today…he’s earned it.” I can’t explain to you how great that was. Maybe it doesn’t sound like a big deal but it gave me one of the many reasons to justify my career. I even managed to get 1.5 tackles on 3 plays so that was pretty neat.
Football has meant more to me than I probably realize at the moment. When I was a little kid I wasn’t very good at socializing. I was an angry and sad kid sometimes but football was a release. Before I realized it was good to excel in school and be proud of it, football gave me a place where I belonged. It was the one place where hard work and dedication could make up for a person’s shortcomings. You could bust your ass on the field, the weight room and earn a chance to play. It allowed me to meet some of my best friends and to be a part of something bigger than myself: a team with a solitary goal in mind. A group of boys/men working towards a goal to represent themselves, the people on their team, their families, and their schools in the right way.
I came close to quitting after 7th grade because of an absolute dickhead of a coach and then again in 8th grade because I thought I didn’t love the sport anymore. I stuck it out and ended up starting off and on my junior year of high school and every game my senior year. I was an offensive lineman through and through. Partly because I wasn’t the most athletic, partly because I was the 4th biggest kid on the team (at 6’2, 225 lbs.) and partly because I never developed my athleticism through other sports. My senior year was a fucking disaster as we went 2-9. The feeling after that last game was heartbreak (with tears in private) but it locked it in my mind I couldn’t let my career end that way. I decided to attend Augsburg College over Carleton to continue my career and I’ll never regret that decision.
I kept busting my ass at Augsburg in order to get on the field any way possible, but I don’t think the head coach really gave me a chance. Even so, I know I could’ve done more to convince him. I was moved to Defensive end when I got to Augsburg and as my senior approached, it dawned on me I was never going to be able to play. The reasons of why I think I didn’t play don’t matter, the reasons I stuck it out for four years did.
I realized that the reason I stayed was because I owed it to my teammates (friends), my parents, and my family to continue. My teammates became an extension of my family and I love those guys, I’d do anything for them. I owed it to the coaching staff who actually gave me a shot to play. I owed it to myself to not quit on something that had given me so much and may continue to give me so much. I owed it to my parents and the rest of my family to give them a source of pride. They didn’t give a shit I wasn’t on the field, it gave them something to hold on to and look forward to.
My dad was diagnosed prior to that start of my senior season of college. He was given 1 1/2 to 5 years to live. Football for us is a bond that cannot be broken. We can rely on it, we know it will always be present in our lives. To attach our hopes to bunch of guys (college and pro) that we might never meet may seem foolish to a lot of people, but if you don’t like sports you just don’t understand. The only story I can give you to persuade you on this position of fandom involves last year’s Superbowl. My father was born and raised in New York and is a die hard New York Giants fan. It is the only team that no matter what happens, he will alway give his allegiance to. When he told me about his cancer diagnosis he said to me “At least the procedure will be done in time so I can watch the Giants play Green Bay” in the playoffs. I laughed despite what was happening. Fast forward to the Super Bowl and we were both at home watching it: he in his chair and me standing with nervous excitement. Brady heaved one last hail mary and it hit the turf: the Giants were Super Bowl champs once again. We both started screaming and hugging after another improbable championship run by the Giants. It was one of the most beautiful, wonderful fucking moments of my life. I’m choking up just writing about it. In that moment the fear and anxiety of his cancer diagnosis was washed away, hope was restored. Football provided a moment for my dad and the rest of us to forget about his troubles and I’ll never forget it as long as I live.
The clock ticked down to zero my in the final game of my career and it really was surreal as I choked back a few tears. My mom came down to the field crying and I couldn’t hold back. I had done it. Four long years of hard work but I felt accomplished. To stick with it was something I never conceived of because of the situation. I nearly quit football again after my junior season of college. As a school we finished our best season in 15 years and I can say I at least contributed to that turn around. I gotta thank the guys on my team for encouraging me to stay and see it through. I may not have played but I was always there to provide a good look for the starters and guide the underclassmen through their careers.
So to those who are thinking of quitting, don’t. It’s true that a football team needs every guy to contribute, no matter how miniscule, in order to succeed. Football (and sports in general) show you a lot about what kind of person you are. You learn if you do have the drive and the grit to succeed, even when things aren’t going your way. You learn loyalty and develop discipline as long as you throw everything you have into it. The games don’t define you as an athlete and a person, the effort you put forth does. The post game celebrations are a hell of a time as well, especially when the coaches take you out for drinks after your career. You’re going to create relationships and memories you’ll never forget. It gives those who might otherwise be outcasts a place to belong and potentially shine. This is why people who understand sports know it’s more than a game, it’s a part of your life. Musicians have their music, Artists their art, athletes their sports. These aren’t mutually exclusive and in fact interact much more than people realize. Sports will always be around and for that I’m eternally grateful. Thank you football and all those who supported me. Hopefully I can take everything I’ve during my time apply it in the world at large and maybe make a difference.
Jackson Browne- “The Load Out/Stay”
I don’t get why so many people say the main story of Skyrim is “dull”, “boring”, or “pure shit”…it wasn’t any worse really than the story for either oblivion or morrowind. In all three you’re a former prisoner who has a destiny (except for in oblivion but it’s implied) and you have to defeat a great evil to save the world. The details for all these main quests are pretty good, I personally liked learning the original purpose of the blades and I loved bethesda’s interpretation of dragons as having their own language and culture. What do you guys think?
Is it just me or do other people think that a great movie could be made based off of the Shivering Isles expansion for Oblivion.