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View Full Version : When did it change for you, Cris?



Chilly
07-05-2010, 01:04 AM
You stated in another thread that you believe football can be a great means of imparting important values to young men, emphasizing the importance of high school football coaches in a country in dire need of mentors, leaders and role models. I would guess that you did not stop learning lessons that transcend the actual game when you entered the collegiate and professional ranks, and that there were many relationships you fostered post-high school that had an equally, if not more beneficial impact on your life.

That being said, I don't think it would be a stretch to surmise that somewhere along the line the game that many of us played in high school changes to a business. Being more-than-somewhat limited athletically, I never had the chance to personally observe the greener pastures of collegiate and professional football.

It seems as if high school is viewed by the majority as a place where lessons are imparted, values such as character and integrity are fostered, and the game is seen--at least in the most optimistic of lenses--as pure.

In the professional ranks, few would deny that it is an entertainment business, only mimicking the high school game that thrives on Friday nights across the country. Luxury taxes, hold-outs, CBA's and contract negotiations hold just as many headlines as the actual game. While there are undoubtedly still many good people as well as those who still hold a true passion for the game, money seems to be the main motivator behind most actions.

That leaves college as the blurring of the two worlds, at least to the pragmatic eye. Recently, we have seen schools change conferences to reap a few more million dollars and other schools punished for recruitment malfeasance. Clearly, the purity that is supposedly the foundation of the high school game begins to lose its foothold in the college ranks--if not before. To me, the line that once did not stray past the starting line of the professional world now has crept through the collegiate game to enter the high school world. I am sure it differs case-to-case, but playing for the love of the game seems to have lost its luster. High school athletes now endure much of the same pressures and scrutinies previously reserved for elite college athletes and professionals.

I am not sure where the line now stands. So after all this, I have only one question for you, Cris.

When did the game stop being 'just a game' for you? And if you would elaborate a bit about the transition, I think more than a couple would be interested to read about it.

Cris Collinsworth
07-05-2010, 01:26 AM
I am 51 years old and it is still a game to me. There is nothing that will ever replace standing in the locker room before a game, feeling like you are about to lose your lunch, wondering why you ever decided to play this game, then walking out on that field for warm-ups and feeling a rush of emotions that you cannot describe. It is so wonderful. You feel like Elvis taking the stage. There will never be another game like it. It tests the human spirit on so many levels. There is nothing that I will ever do in my lifetime that will replace the feelings I had taking the field for an NFL game.

InNOutBurgler
07-05-2010, 03:14 AM
I think it's true that it imparts valuable life lessons, like any sport, in high school and college. I was a pretty decent wrestler in Pennsylvania and an average to below average "Blocking TE/DE" in football who always wanted to play fullback. Wrestling was by far the harder sport physically for me and I was better at it, but football was where I felt the happiest. I wish I had known more about the game while I was playing. I honestly didn't start really breaking down the X's and O's until I started playing Madden and watching NFL Primetime and Sunday Countdown.

Anyway...the locker room mentality, and the adrenaline before each game, each snap was hard to replace and the closest I ever got was in the Army, albeit on a different level entirely. I always remember the line from "Friday Night Lights' when the coach says "Most of you will never play this game again." It is very true and very sad. I hope the majority of NFL players cherish what they get to do. I think that they do, because it seems to me that if you don't love it and aren't excited by the competition, then you will just fade away...Jamarcus Russel for instance, But clearly he is an outlier.

The punishment these men receive is incredible...I am convinced that money is not a big enough motivator by itself to absorb that punishment and perform well for multiple seasons.

Chilly
07-05-2010, 12:47 PM
I totally understand the feeling, though probably just the tip of the iceberg of what it felt to walk into stadiums with 100k fans.

During high school, I was fortunate to play in two state championship games in baseball, winning the second. It was an amazing experience, but I still don't know if my anticipation at those events ever came close to what I felt going out on the field starting my first varsity football game sophomore year. The lights, the small-town crowd, and the atmosphere were incredible, and I find it hard to think I'd trade that moment in for any other. Football has something about it...the weeklong preparation for a single game, the knocks and blows, Saturdays spent icing legs on a couch watching college football, or even the post game exhaustion [win or loss]...

Nothing like it, that's for sure.

Cris Collinsworth
07-05-2010, 03:08 PM
The first time I left the field and watched a game from the booth, it looked so easy. How could the QB not see that guy? When you are on the field and bodies are flying in every direction, it is entirely different. I used to yell "hit me _____ _____, you can't hurt me." Which of course they did. But you have to become a different person to survive. I am still embarrassed about some of the things I did and said on the field. But, I knew that I couldn't play as well unless I got myself mad at something, ANYTHING. I am still convinced that John McEnroe was working on his own mental state much more than he was working over the officials when he was going off.

KevinG
07-22-2010, 06:52 PM
The first time I left the field and watched a game from the booth, it looked so easy. How could the QB not see that guy? When you are on the field and bodies are flying in every direction, it is entirely different. I used to yell "hit me _____ _____, you can't hurt me." Which of course they did. But you have to become a different person to survive. I am still embarrassed about some of the things I did and said on the field. But, I knew that I couldn't play as well unless I got myself mad at something, ANYTHING. I am still convinced that John McEnroe was working on his own mental state much more than he was working over the officials when he was going off.

This seems to be a common thing in football. I can't count the number of times I've heard it said that a player is the nicest guy off the field and an animal on it. Ray Nitchke comes to mind as a player I've heard or read this said about many times. I have to admit Cris, I have trouble picturing you in that light, but it makes total sense.