The Challenges

The average career is about 3 years. Many players never make the field, being on the practice squad to challenge the A teams. Some players, who do start, do so for only one year. Professional football is truly a competition.

Every player endures tremendous workouts and game competition. Injuries are par for the course. The vast majority, probably all, play with pain and injuries.

**Many opportunities in life have risks. 

Football is a rough sport. Rugby is a rough sport.  Soccer is a rough sport.  And at varying levels, many sports have their physical risks. And to a large degree, the challenges are what brings many to participate. Competition. Determination. Winning. And the preparation, working at part of a team. 

We used to say, if the sport is too difficult, find something else to do, for not every person is built like a 250 pound truck, or a 320 pound behemoth, or can run the 40-yard dash in less than 5 seconds, turning on a dime.  Every person has their strengths and weaknesses.  Every person is not meant to play at the top of some fields.  If all had the ability, the NFL would have a thousand teams, each with a thousand players, and playoffs would be a nightmare.  We would probably have A, B, C, D, E, F…. leagues.  However, only the best of the best ever play a snap in a regular season game.  That’s what makes so many want to play.  And for many, in college football, even on the Alabama Crimson Tide, will be the last time they play as such a high level.  And they’ll remember those years for the rest of their lives. 

The other day, Tua Tagovailoa was injured on a common play.  At 6’1” and 217 pounds, he has the skills to play at the highest levels.  One of my favorite quarterbacks from the Alabama Crimson Tide, now with the Miami Dolphins, he can run like nobody’s business, throw on a dime, and work as part of a team week to week.  And the players love working with him.  He has the kind of attitude that says we’re going to win:  together.  And that’s fantastic.

How he was injured was very common.  While running in the backfield, looking for someone to throw the ball to, I believe it was a lineman who caught up to him and tackled.  It was a normal tackle.  It looked vicious.  What the defender did was grab Tua and bring him to the ground as fast as possible, probably wanting the sack statistics, to win the game, but also to prevent any passes.  Unfortunately, Tua’s head hit the ground pretty hard.  And this was after the previous week, when his head then hit the ground and he was shaky. 

The game was against the Cincinnati Bengals.  Joe Burrows was quarterbacking that team.  And I remember in Joe’s first season, while doing well as a rookie, his year ended on a serious knee injury.  With the right rehab and attitude, he came back the following year and with the team, nearly won it all.  That’s determination.  That’s at the top.   That’s going for it all within a sport.  And that’s what keeps Tom Brady coming back year after year. And they know the risks. And if they’re going to have longer careers, as Tom has had, then they’ll have to make adjustments. If they’re going to last longer than 3-5 years, then they’ll have to learn the game, the timing, and how to escape potentially dangerous situations. **For instance, Tom Brady learned as soon as he’s in the grasp, he drops to the ground, saving his health for another down: another day.

Here’s a second part of this article.  We’re hearing all kinds of “episodes” about this incident.  Tua Tagovailoa was monitored, checked, then put on a stretcher before being taken to the hospital.  Thankfully, he was moving well and I’m sure they’ll be running tests, checking x-rays and other resources, then sending him back to the team, during which, I imagine he’ll be on injured reserve for a time until the doctors give him a clean bill of health to return.  And we would like him to be healthy.

While we would like all players to stay healthy, the risks are part of the game.  Tua can always decide his best interests lie elsewhere, even go into coaching.  But he stays because he loves the game, loves the competition and teamwork, and wants to win at the highest level.  And he knows the risks. But here’s the thing.  So does every other player in the National Football League.  Nobody gets to that level without a strong desire to succeed. The Cincinnati defender who tackled Tua wants to win big, and he too must endure injuries (Linemen often get concussions and torn leg muscles, which is why they wear those braces.).  All the players do.  And each defender knows that the quarterback is working to take their wins away from them.  And each player knows their ability to remain on a team, play at the highest level, is always being competed against by other players wanting to be in the NFL.  So they all have to do their best. Sometimes, just a couple missed tackles, and/or a couple poor blocks might get you sent down to the practice squad, another player replacing you on the game field. And that might mean future opportunities.

And that’s also is what makes Tom Brady’s accomplishments so amazing.  Every team and every player wants to stop Tom from winning.  Every team and every player wants to beat whatever team he’s quarterbacking.  And he just keeps winning:  big.

If Tua is going to have a long career, and such things are never predictable, we think he’ll have to make some adjustments in how he plays. He’s a fantastic player, a very mobile quarterback, but at just over 6 feet and 210 pounds, and being chased by 300 pound athletes who run like sports cars, he’s going to have to train with a better repertoire. I believe, he’ll need to read defenses better, know when to release the ball earlier, or simply drop when in the grasp to avoid more violent hits. That way, he’s ready for the next play. **In the mean time, we hope he’s soon out of the hospital and back with the team.

**Ever since we watched him play for Alabama, we couldn’t wait to see him in the NFL.


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