By Roger, Pure Matters
My cleats are hung up and the rust has started to spread on my mini Lombardi Trophy (it’s a replica.) I retired from Pro Football in the fall of 1995 and I have a few words of advice to pass along -- from one player to another -- to those entering the NFL this year as well as to all the seasoned veterans.
Guys, be smart and play the game like it’s supposed to be played. This unique opportunity will have a lasting impact on you until the day you die!
Let’s get some things out in the open: sign autographs regardless if you get a residual income from a company that thinks they control you! It’s important to the game -- remember back when you were a little kid? It matters.
Stay out of trouble so you won’t have to call a press conference to tell perfect strangers that you’re sorry! Keep your nose clean. The days are limited regardless if you play one year or 10 years -- it will all be a warm comforting memory soon. Be a hero, be an Ambassador for the greatest game in the world. People are watching your every move and the most important spectators are watching with their eyes wide open: the kids! Play the game for 60 minutes, play it between the whistles and play it with reckless abandonment! Clean and fair play is what we, including ex-players, want to see.
The dumbest play in football is when players fight. One player takes a swing at another with his bare hand or with a open hand to the helmet. Did you hear that? To the helmet: a hard plastic top with thick padding on the inside and a face mask made of one or more rubber coated metal bars. Not only do you have a busted hand and probably out for four weeks but it’s a 15 yard penalty against your team. You want to fight? Pick up some boxing gloves.
Let’s go old school at the end of the game. Win or lose, let’s line up in a straight line and shake, slap, bump or even barely touch hands and show off the game’s most precious element: sportsmanship! You won’t find this word in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement that was just signed before the start of last season.
Sportsmanship is the single most valuable thing I have taken from my experience playing the game. Our 8-year-old son is headed to a new school and their motto is: “Be Honest, Do Your Best and Help the Other Fellow.” If we can demand this type of behavior from young boys shouldn’t we expect that type of mentality from grown men? It’s a new season with new players. Will these newcomers embrace this childhood game still being played all over the world or will they come up short? Only time and a 16-game season will tell.