This is quite good, from the wife of the Browns linebacker:
My husband could have lost his life to a staph infection. His NFL doctors and trainers were heating/icing/stemming his knee for a bursa-sac rupture and ignoring all the major signs of infection, while his body was screaming that something else must be wrong. He ended up in an emergency operation weeks after symptoms began. Following five nights in hospital isolation and many weeks beating back the infection, he was ready to play for the city we love and a team we built our life around. He would help them win the coveted Super Bowl Championship. Less than a month later he would be gone, feeling completely expendable and replaceable as if his blood, sweat and tears did not matter.
Now I know many don’t want to hear our complaints: we made our bed and now we have to lie in it. But what about the pro football players of tomorrow who have no idea what they are stepping into? Boys who are playing football because they love it and have found something they are really good at? They see the pride on their family’s faces every time they strap on that helmet, but these young men have no idea of the pain they will endure or the true uncertainty of their career choice. They have no idea how long they will work or when their bodies will say “no” to the abuse. What these men need to know is that as they step on the field and risk major injury—while generating billions of dollars for this industry—the billionaires who write the checks are not looking out for them. They need to know that they are going to be lied to. They need to know that when they suffer an injury they will be told they should buck up and play.
But the day will come when they decide to walk away from the sport they played for the last 20 years of their lives. The sport which taught them to play through pain, to never complain, to never stop, to yell, to scream, to hit, to fight, to destroy the man in front of them, to work until they puke, to lay their body on the line every Sunday and just hope that they walk off that field and aren’t carried. That day will come when they leave this game—the game that used them and abused them, yet the game they loved so passionately.
Each man will walk away thinking that if his knees are to give out, hopefully it happens in the next 5 years before his health coverage expires. And if he has to cover himself with money from his own pocket, he will hope it doesn’t break him. Insurance companies aren’t looking to cover the 10-year veteran pro football player with the pounding migraines and ALS or severe depression that could be lurking just around the corner. His knees and back are sure to give out faster than the average person, and he may lose his mind due to all the concussions.
Read the whole thing. I think it fits with Bill Simmons’ lockout piece quite well.
I’m sure you’ll be shocked by this, but I find myself siding with the NFL players during these negotiations. I certainly don’t fault the players for playing hardball (I mean, it’s just their health and their livelihood at stake) and I don’t really get siding with owners.
If you think you’d play 16 (or 18!) games of NFL football for free (or practically nothing), I get that. These guys are playing a games for millions (well, most of ’em make thousands) and now they’re complaining. But siding with the owners? At least the players are making the physical and mental sacrifices. Sure, they get compensated but what do the owners do? You think NFL players are rich? The owners are the guys who are signing their checks (with apologies to Chris Rock).
Yes, I want there to be NFL games next year, but I’d also like knowing that these men we cheer for on Sundays won’t be broken husks of themselves demented and living in squalor in 20 years.