The doors fly open when you’re a professional athlete~ Dennis Rodman, Retired NBA Player
As a retired defensive football player myself, you can’t help not notice such players like Lyle Alzado, Junior Seau, Ray Lewis, Jack Lambert, Dick Butkus, Brian Urlacker to name a few that play or have played professional football. Great athletes with size, speed and talent.
I played in high school and college but it wasn’t in my deck of cards to get to that level. The man upstairs had another plan for me. I dreamt about it at as a kid to play in the NFL just as so many other kids do. The fame, the fortune, the lifestyle seemed all so attractive to me. The chances of getting to that level are so slim however having a 6’3″; 250lb frame with some athletic ability does help. The only thing I didn’t have was the height. My high school coach once told me that if I was 6’2″ or taller I would have played on Sundays. Well, do I really agree with that? I’m not too sure if I do. There are some, not many, playing in the NFL at 5’11″ at the Linebacker position. Again, we are put on this earth for a reason and playing in the NFL wasn’t meant to be for me.
You’re on this beautiful planet for a short time. Nothing last forever. Enjoy every minute of it with the people that matter most to you. ~John R. Salkowski
Thinking about mortality is not what young people do. Young people feel invincible like they will live forever. Thinking about mortality hit me when I turned 40. Having a child and watching her grow up so fast. Life goes by so fast. When I hit 40, I realized that I had already lived half my life. It just amazes me what people do to their bodies. We are only on this earth a short while, so why not take care of the only one you get. It’s reported that the average life expectancy for an average adult male is 78 while the life expectancy for an NFL player is 50-55. Why is this? Is it the trauma their bodies go through, is it their lifestyle, it is the pain medication they take to get back on that field sooner? It amazes me that playing in the NFL cuts 30yrs off their lives.
With all the hype about concussions and head trauma in the NFL today, you can’t help and wonder what the long term affects are to these athletes and their long term health. I’ve had several concussions over the course of my life and I will tell you that they just get worse after each one. It takes longer to recover. I’m not sure what the average number of concussions an NFL player gets over the course of his career but I have to stop and think how the hell can a concussion in a contact sport be prevented? Tackling with your shoulder and not your head can help but how can the NFL prevent them all together? Maybe the NFL is not trying to prevent them all together but taking the necessary measures to prevent most of them.
There are two types of collisions in football. The player hitting its target and the player’s internal organs hitting their body. The latter is what causes the concussion and/or injury. Being a retired police officer and investigating hundreds if not thousands of vehicle accidents over 15yrs, the one impact that kills people the most is the internal organs slamming against their body. It’s the same premise in football.
Strength and growth come only through continuous effort and struggle ~Napoleon Hill
With the recent headlines of the future Hall of Famer, Junior Seau committing suicide, one must wonder what’s going on with the increase in suicides amongst professional athletes. Seau had fortune, fame, 3 children, and great personality and to take his own life at the age of 43 with so much more ahead of him, simply blows my mind.
We may never know what drove Junior Seau to take his own life but there are talks about the physical trauma of pro football that leads to so many brain injuries and early deaths. Last year another retired NFL player, Dave Duerson also committed suicide in the exact same way Seau took his live. Duerson left a note behind indicating that he wanted his brain examined after his death. The examination revealed that he did in fact suffer from neuro-degeneration. The NFL is under attack from lawsuits filed by some 1,500 former players that are alleging the NFL concealed the links between concussions and permanent brain injury.
There is also talk about Seau not being able to cope with life outside the limelight. Going from being a rock star from his college days to his incredible 20yrs in the NFL with 80,000 screaming and cheering fans, getting ask over and over again for his autograph is a culture shock when that stops to say the least. When you no longer have that adrenaline rush, history tells us that the loss of that defining part of your life leads to destructive personal behavior. Thoughts and acts of suicide haunt people from all walks of life and all corners of society. Sadly, football players do not hold a monopoly on tragic lives that end early. We shouldn’t pretend that they do. Maybe Seau was haunted by issues and problems that had little to do with his career in the NFL.
I know that when I was at the peak of my suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the thoughts of suicide and homicide often crossed my mind. The depressive state that you get into sometimes is irreversible for some. There were times I would be sitting in my patrol car, isolated and tucked away so no one could find me with my hand on my gun. The thought of ending my torment was such a great feeling. No more suffering and dealing with the everyday bullshit I was faced with. The very one thought that kept me from pulling that trigger was my daughter. That very little special beautiful girl that lite me up like a Christmas tree when I would see her made me not do it. My relationship with my daughter means more to me than anything on this planet. She is why I continue to press on-ward and up-ward, face challenges head-on, struggle through my failures, fight to overcome adversity and fear. She is my WHY power.
I wish for so many people in this world to find their why power? Everyone on this planet has a reason and a purpose to live. Our struggles are temporary not permanent. They’re only permanent if we allow them to be.
It’s the small things in life that matter most. It’s not the fame, fortune, autographs that make us who we are. It’s our WHY that makes us who we are!
I’m John R. Salkowski, Founder of AchieveSuccessAcademy.com, Entrepreneur, Author, and Speaker on Leadership, Success and Overcoming Adversity. Retired Police Officer, Survivor of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) stemming from a shoot and kill robbery incident.
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