The price of admission is high:
My knee injury has left me sidelined since the Arizona game of 2014. The doctor told me that there was a 30% chance I would never play football again. If you’re in athletics of any sort you know 30% chance of anything is extremely high. I was worried and felt as if my heart was going to be broken.
Besides all the psychological instability that was occurring surrounding my knee, I needed to figure out what I was going to do when I eventually could not play ball any longer. Nothing came to mind. I have been playing football for 14 years. Two thirds of my life dedicated to a discipline that has left me with a broken body. I was scared. I responded the only way I could; I studied my ass off and starting prepping for plan B in case football was done.
6 months out from surgery I wasn’t where I wanted to be health wise and I was looking for a way out.
Then spring ball started and I was extremely happy to just be out on the practice field. Although, I probably shouldn’t have been. I was not ready and every day the film showed it. To be blunt, it sucked. The gradual decline into a quitters’ mindset began.
Summer training began and I finally could back squat. I got that high of just being somewhat an athlete again. But, every day leg hurt more and more and I knew my time was running out. I was giving in and if you know me that is not my personality. I have not, will not ever quit but, football was killing me physically, mentality, emotionally, and spiritually. I needed something to get me full circle, back to the basics.
Three weeks ago my little brother Jase started his first football practice. Usually in my family dad is in charge of taking us to football practice but, he was out of town and mom was working late so the responsibilities fell on me. Naturally I was excited to take Jase to practice because those were my the best times. Competitive but, fun no matter win or lose and oddly enough I remember more about those SYFL practices at Sparks Middle School than games. I remember more about high school
practice with Kyle Danielson than any game including state. And oddly enough Jase’s practice field is the same one I practiced on for high school. More on that in a second.
On our way there I tell Jase that there will be a point during a practice where you will cry and feel like you want to quit but, you can do it and after nothing will be as tough. He asked if that happened to me and I told him my story of how Coach Sally was screaming at me while I was bear crawling my 7 year old, 150 lbs. crying ass across the field. I can still hear his voice telling me, “Jeremy you can do it your almost there, then it will be over and nothing will be as tough”. And it was true, that moment broke me and he was there to build me up.
As we walked through the entrance of Reed High football stadium everything that I had ever done in this sport flashed in my mind. That tingling sensation ran down my back. I thought of all teammates past and present and I could not help but smile. And I was so happy to watch Jase start his journey down a path that makes boys into men. Men who will fight for each other, teach you things about yourself that will frighten you and will embrace a very animalistic side of yourself.
Football has been killing me for some time now but, all those moments that flashed in my mind was the paramount of what I have been striving for – greatness – to be remembered in this game, to win the big one. Coach Sally’s screaming encouragement in my mind makes my knee seem insignificant. I am better than what I was before and I see that now. I have adapted and grown and that mental instability that was used as a channel of depression and anxiety has been turned into a crazed animal that will kill for his brothers. An animal who just wants to play ball and have fun the way the game was meant to be played.