Monday, August 20, 2012

The Fear

Would you keep doing this?
This last weekend, after another starting perfor- mance that has left his team's fans wondering for the thousandth time whether or not Kurt Warner could be coaxed back into the NFL, Arizona Cardinals' starting QB Kevin Kolb had his courage questioned by Raiders' DT Tommy Kelly. Kolb fired back, and the snitfit was on. (And yes, I know that Kolb might not be the starter much longer. Moving on.)

Now, personally, I think Kelly was out of line, even if he really does think it's true, rather than just trying to get some media run. Knowing what is in the heart of anyone is questionable at best, let alone a man you don't really know, and don't even work with. Kolb has strapped on a special helmet this year to try to limit his susceptibility to future concussions, and has been a QB for probably two-thirds of his life. He's always been reasonably mobile, willing to stand in, and hasn't caused controversy off the field. It's not like the NFL has gotten that much more dangerous in the time that he's been in the league, or that the risk of injury has increased that much.

He just hasn't been very good, especially after being traded to a team that doesn't have a very good line or running game. Seriously, outside of Larry Fitzgerald and warm weather, there isn't much to recommend the Cardinal QB job to anyone, which is a strong indication of why Peyton Manning wanted no part of it.

But let's look at this in another way. Let's say *you* were Kolb. You've won the lottery that every football player in America dreams of -- a starting job in the NFL. You've been paid over $20 million so far. You just lost your starting left tackle, the not very good Levi Jones, for the year. Your team is not expected to contend for the division crown in what might be the worst division in the NFL. Even if you did somehow lead them to the playoffs, you certainly aren't expected to win a Super Bowl, and unless some kind of miracle happens, you aren't likely to end the year with your starting job and your health intact.

Oh, and you've been concussed. Several times. Enough to wear that special helmet, and possibly enough to make your loved ones truly worried about your future.

Now, with all of that... might you think about, you know, quitting? Walking away with the money and the health and the knowledge that you've got the next 40-50 years of life and family and relative leisure all at your fingertips?

Of course you wouldn't, because being a starting QB in the NFL is the dream you've dreamed since you were a kid, and there are only 32 of these jobs in the whole world. Coming back from a bad situation is something you've done before, and confidence in your abilities to lead is baked into your mind. Turnarounds on the professional level happen all the time -- heck, just look at Warner's career as a box boy, then his disastrous run in New York, in between the probable Hall of Fame performances in St. Louis and the desert. $20 million is nice, but with friends, family, taxes, extravagant lifestyles and the failed business venture or three that seem to be rife in post-athletic lives, it really might not last you the rest of your days.

So that's really the thing that makes Kelly's accusation so baseless. Because if Kolb were really afraid, he wouldn't be on the field now.

There are no NFL players who are that scared.

No, what they fear is what happens to their lives *after* football.

Because if you had a fear of what happens to your life during football... you wouldn't play it.

For any amount of money...

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