Sunday, May 4, 2014

NFL Blues

I just read "Slow to Get Up," a memoir by former NFL tight end Nate Jackson. It's a great book, a revealing look inside pro football from a player, per the book's subtitle, at "the bottom of the pile."

Jackson played six seasons on the Broncos, mostly on special teams and as a backup. His account of the constant pain and suffering endured by the typical NFL player is harrowing. Even as  a non-starter, the list of his injuries and ailments is cringe-worthy. But you can understand the high. Even marginal players like him partake of American's adulation of men who pound each other to jelly for our entertainment. The perks are sweet: VIP treatment at Las Vegas clubs, golf with Playboy bunnies, first class hotel rooms, cash to burn.

I was struck by the odd sense of isolation Jackson experiences in the most team-orientated of games. He's just an interchangeable part, a gypsy ready to move anywhere at a moment's notice. The friends he makes get traded and he never sees them again. He lives alone in a gigantic house. He writes of the affinity between strippers and football players because both live outside of normal society and are subject to impenetrable stereotypes.

The world he presents is in contrast to Vince Lombardi-Green-Bay-Packers ideal of my youth. Books about those teams emphasize the intense bonds formed between players and their coach. Today, it's all business.

The best thing I've read on pro football since North Dallas Forty.

No comments:

Post a Comment