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Column: Blame Game

by Dan Borrello
August 31, 2019

Cue the blame! Cue the outrage! Cue the hyperbole!

Andrew Luck, once can’t-miss NFL quarterback prospect, the man pegged to replace Peyton Manning, decided enough was enough, and at 29 years-old, called it quits.

There have been some shocking retirements over the years. Jim Brown. Barry Sanders. Joe DiMaggio. Calvin Johnson. Prime of their careers. See ya.

But, an NFL quarterback? Those guys, when good, can literally outplay and outlast anyone.

Ask Brett Favre, Drew Brees, or of course, Tom Brady.

Heck, Brees and Brady both started and will continue their careers while the can’t miss kid from Stanford came and went.

Even more heck: RG3 is still playing.

Saying football is a tough game is like saying winter sucks. Yeah, we know.

And like many retirees, eventually, people say enough and move on.

So good for Luck.

And Rob Gronkowski, who told reporters this week that football had sapped the joy from his life.

Oh, that evil football.

It was football’s fault Andrew Luck didn’t wanna play anymore. Yet, as Tony Robbins says, if you’re gonna blame things for your circumstances, then you need to thank those same things for forcing your success.

Not that Luck blamed football, necessarily, but rather the pain that came with it.

Even if the shoulder injury he endured three seasons ago that led him down this cyclical path of rehab may not have come from football at all.

Yes, possibly.

But, hey: it’s football’s fault.

Ask Gronk about the joys of all the money he’s made, endorsements he’s garnered, and the personality he created. Oh, and those Super Bowl rings and the distinction of becoming the greatest tight end ever.

Gonna trade that back?

Not a snowball’s chance in the Pro Bowl.

Pain sucks for Tom Brady, too. He’s still playing.

That’s not a shot at either Luck or Gronk. But football, which sapped them of the joy they supposedly walked away from, has allowed them to find new happiness in life.

A life they would have never experienced without it.

Enough with this War on Football.

Go to a Senior Night this year. Watch the kids and parents crying. High School. College. They all would do it again. Most of them playing in their last game. Ever.

Same thing in the pros. Everyone knows the risks by now, just like they don’t need the Farmer’s Almanac to tell you Western and Central New York winters will make you long for a dozen Julys.

Football is the ultimate team game. One day or night a week. And unlike every other sport, some guys never get to touch the ball. Eleven on eleven. No travel leagues needed. No AAU. No sneaker hounds. High Schools on Fridays, college on Saturdays, pros on Sundays (and yes, Thursdays and Mondays). If you’re good, and can play, you’ll get noticed. Period.

Some get noticed and it gets them into college and takes a chunk off their costs.

Some get noticed in college and make a ton of money.

There’s life lessons. Camaraderie. Winning. Teamwork. Competition. Accountability.

There’s no ballhogs in football. You have one job to do. If you don’t, you won’t have one.

And everybody knows what they’re in for.

And when it gets too tough, you can always walk. Some have. No shame in that.

But, if you’re gonna complain about what made you walk, you need to thank the game for the highs you enjoyed, the lessons you’ve learned, and the life that football allowed you.

Luck didn’t complain; just reiterated that he vowed he would never go back through the arduous rehab process he had already gone through.

Gronk got emotional while pitching cannabis as an alternative for athletes with pain.

But, the fact is, football has been made to be the ultimate culprit here.

And that’s unfair.

There are many reasons this game is America’s most-watched television show.

And those aren’t all bad, horrible, selfish reasons.

If football is really the problem, then stop watching it.

Nobody is. Nobody will.

This isn’t steel work, coal mining, heavy lifting. This is a kid’s game men are both blessed and somehow now cursed to play.

Yet, find the would-be doctor or lawyer at the top of his collegiate game who says, ‘Ya know what? After my senior year, I’m going to grad school. I don’t need the NFL.’

Not one.

The game has it’s hazards. So does pro wrestling which has a fraction of the regulations and even less of a fraction of the money.

If you want it, you’ll seek it, and if you don’t (anymore) you won’t. But if you’re going to kill the pain, make sure you recognize the blessings that have come thanks to America’s Game.

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