It is widely believed by many that a career for your typical NFL player usually runs about 5 years. By the time most players reach 30, they are already contemplating retirement. The game is just to violent for your typical player to have a long career in the NFL. The human body is just not built to withstand that type of punishment for any long-term amount of time. A particular player during this year’s playoffs has really gone against that belief and is one of those freaks who has actually had a long and very storied career. His name is none other than Tom Brady, the quarterback of the New England Patriots. The fact that he is still performing at a very high level is one of the most amazing sports stories ever. And the guy is 40 years old! Sometimes I wonder if Brady is really human. The man is a total freak of nature!
I don’t know if Brady is still the best quarterback in the league, Aaron Rodgers might have surpassed him, but it is hard to argue that anyone else is better than Brady. If not the best, Brady is certainly the second best quarterback in the league and you could also consider him as being one of the better players in the league. In how many other leagues is a 40-year-old considered one of the top players? Most players reached their peak during the late 20’s and decline after that. By the time many players are 32, it is time to think about being a role player on the team. Here you have Brady at 40 still dominating the league; how amazing is that? In all my years of watching sports, I have never seen an athlete perform like that so late in his career.
Perhaps more athletes can learn from what Brady is doing and his habits off the field. He reportedly is very disciplined about taking care of his body and has a very strict diet. Maybe he has found something in the fountain of youth that other players can use. Sure, Brady has for the most part avoided any chronic injuries that shorten many players career, but his willingness to take his craft serious with that much discipline should be applauded whether you are a fan of his or not.
Brady says that he wants to play until he is 45, then retire. Heck, why not play until you are 50? He could probably still be somewhat effective even at 50. We are witnessing a very special athlete in our midst. Professional sports are supposed to be leagues dominated by young 20 some year olds. Brady is blowing that myth that players cannot play at 40. Maybe more players will realize that they too can play well at that age. Maybe 40 is the new 30 in the world of professional sports.
Many publications such as Time Magazine like to name their “People of the Year” at the end of each year in recognition of those who really have shaped the world for better or worse. I really take issue for those publications who name people like Adolf Hitler or Colin Kaepernick as their people of the year. My nominees are based on people who actually make sacrifices so others can live a better life. In Kaepernick’s case, he is nothing more than some ungrateful whiner who doesn’t even deserve to be mentioned for this honor. And we all know what Hitler was about; perhaps the most evil man in the history of the world. There are a few individuals this year who really caught my eye in how they either made huge sacrifices sometimes risking their own lives, or how they overcame great adversity that few people could handle. So without further ado, let me list a few people who caught my attention this year.
1) Crystal Griner. Many of you remember the awful shooting that took place in Virginia during an early softball practice for several Republican lawmakers. Griner who is a homosexual capital police officer went out in the face of danger with bullets flying all around to rescue Steve Scalise and shoot the gunman. Not only did Griner prevent what was certainly a potential for a huge tragedy, she also put her life in danger helping those who are against many rights that she might want in her life. In other words, she helped save the lives of her enemies. Griner put aside her own personal beliefs to do a very courageous job.
2) J.J. Watts. NFL players received a heap of criticism this year for kneeling during the playing of the national anthem. Many fans turned off the games, however, I pointed out in one of my earlier posts that there are many players who would give the shirt off their backs to help their communities and Watts is just one of many. During the awful hurricane which ravaged the city of Houston, Watts stepped up and raised millions of dollars to help rebuild that great community.
3) Teddy Bridgewater. There are always numerous stories during the year about athletes who overcome great adversity to come back from injury and Bridgewater is just another example. A little more than a year ago, Bridgewater, an NFL quarterback, suffered a very serious knee injury during a preseason practice which almost cost him, not only his career, but his leg. For the past year, TB worked tirelessly to come back and it finally happened a few weeks ago when he entered a game for the first time since that horrific injury. I really admire people in any walk of life who can come back from, not only from a terrible injury, but a devastating medical diagnosis.
4) Me too group. 2017 will be known as the year of improper sexual allegations against many high ranking celebrities. Lost in all this hype over these allegations were the women behind these allegations. It takes a lot of courage to take a stand against some abuser and risk losing your career and reputation. These women are starting a trend to stop a very sickening behavior in our society. There is no doubt in my mind that these sexual abuse stories are not some isolated incidents. They have been going on for a long time and it is great that some women are paving the way for future harassed women to come forward.
5) The heroes of the Las Vegas massacre. There were many heroes on that awful night in Las Vegas on October 1st. Many first responders put themselves in harms way to help out injured concert goers. However, I would really like to tip my cap to everyday citizens who acted in the same way. There were many stories coming out of that tragedy that showed the true American spirit. Normal citizens helping out fellow normal citizens despite bullets flying towards them. These brave citizens stayed behind and helped people instead of running. Many of these people were not named and some may have lost their lives because of their acts of bravery. These everyday people are true heroes in my eyes.
The media loves to ignore these stories and people but I find people, like these I mentioned, make the world a much better place. We need more of them in our society.
If you ask several sports fans and athletes what is the worst thing about playing and watching sports, losing would no doubt top the list. Athletes at nearly all level hate to lose; some have even famously stated that losing is worse than death because you have to live with a loss. A sports fan hates to see their favorite team lose. Like many athletes, a good many fans tend to take losing a little bit too hard and it expands to their personal lives. I cannot disagree that losing is indeed one of the worst things that sports brings, but I must add another thing that is equally or more devastating, that would be injuries.
We saw evidence of this last week in the NFL. Think of how a couple of people must be feeling right now, Carson Wentz and your typical Philadelphia Eagles fan. Wentz was having a great season, one might argue worthy of MVP consideration, then in a sudden moment, it is all over. Wentz injures his knee and his season is all over. Instead of planning on the playoffs and a trip to the Super Bowl, Wentz is now planning on surgery and several months of rehab. A great season is flushed down the toilet in one play. Imagine what it would be like to be an Eagles fan? Your team is rolling great after several down years. A Super Bowl berth is very likely. Then this happens! You wonder what else could go wrong? Losing your star QB late in a very successful season is any NFL fan’s worst nightmare. Who knows, maybe Philly can overcome this injury, but this injury was a major blow to their Super Bowl hopes.
A friend of mine has a son who plays high school basketball. He is a senior this year and eyeing on playing college basketball next year. This was supposed to be a special season for him and his team. They were ranked highly in the state and he was a very integral part of the team. He spent numerous months preparing for what was supposed to be a magical season. Suddenly, the magical season turned into a nightmare. In his first game, he suffered a very serious knee injury and will be lost for the season. Not only will he be lost for the season, but his college career might be lost too. Those hoops dreams were vanished in a blink of an eye.
As a former athlete, there is nothing I feared more than getting hurt and suffering a serious injury. Many of these injuries are just freak injuries too. There is very little you can do to prevent them. You can be the best conditioned, strongest athlete on the planet, but that will not prevent you from twisting a knee or ankle and suffering a serious injury. Watching Wentz and this young athlete suffer those types of injuries really should serve as a wake up call for all athletes at any level. Never take playing your sport for granted. It could all end in just one bad fall or movement. Nothing is guaranteed in sports and injuries in my mind are even more depressing than losing.