After suffering his 4th concussion, former Browns and Dolphins Tight End, Jordan Cameron, is retiring from the National Football League. He's 28.
“I don’t think a lot of these guys love football, to be honest,” Cameron said to ESPN, "A lot of them don’t. You play for other reasons, and every guy has their own reason. They know why, and as long as your why is really important, you keep playing without really loving football. Because really, who loves to get hit in 10-degree weather by a 280-pound person? Really, no one likes that. ‘Do you love football?’ I couldn’t stand when people asked me that.”
I totally get it, but I’m guessing that most people won’t. They will say, “Aw, what a tough life you live that you get to make 20 million dollars. Take a few hits, and shut up.” The money is alluring. Especially to people like you and me who don’t know what it’s like to have a lot of money in our pocket. But not everyone has to “love the game.” James Harrison was born to play football. So was Antonio Brown.
It is their trade. It is what they are good at doing. But it doesn’t mean that they have to love doing it. They aren’t doing this for the 68,000 people in the stadium on a Sunday. They don’t owe YOU anything. Some people are born to be doctor’s. They go to school for 10 years to be able to do it. By the time they get out, they may not want to do it. But it will pay the bills and provide for their family. It’s their trade. Where else could Antonio Brown make this kind of money?
Alejandro Villanueva is a perfect example of this. He’s a bright, charismatic, good looking dude. I’m sure that he will find something else to do after he’s done in this game. We already know what he did before this. He’s currently taking classes at CMU. He’s also still playing football. Because, even though he is going to be able to do other things when he leaves the game, nothing else will be as lucrative. I doubt anything will come close. In his mind, though, I bet it will be more fulfilling.
Reasonable people can argue whether or not I’m good on the radio. But I’m good enough to get paid. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I really don’t want to do a show. I LOVE what I do. But it doesn’t mean that I love every second of it. My job also doesn’t wear me down the way that football wears these players down. The other day, we talked about NFL teams not following the FDA guidelines when it comes to painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs.Teams have broken those rules because the physical demand on the players is so great. Teams broke those rules because their players were in so much pain.
I think most of you will be reasonable when I put it in those terms. But what if I said that Ben Roethlisberger was walking away from the game right now? I think the reaction would be different. I think people would feel like Ben was leaving the team and the fans high and dry.
It irritated me when people just shrugged off the fact that Ben said he may not be coming back this year. I think he will be back. But I do think he was actually thinking about walking away from the game.
I know a lot of former and current players. Not all of them LOVE what they do or did. And the guys who aren’t playing anymore have scars and wounds to deal with forever. But they understand that that’s what they had to go through to put food on the table.
It’s not a walk in the park for everyone, you can bet that. For a lot of guys, it’s just a means to an end.
Thumbnail Image courtesy of Getty Imges.