A new book by a fringe player, Nate Jackson, provides an understanding as to why such a culture of head shots and harassment exists. “Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile” reveals a lot about what players will do to play the game professionally. They love the feel of hitting and being hit, and will disregard injuries that would put most “normal” people in wheel chairs.
The fact that Jackson was a career backup and always struggling to make the team makes his story that much more compelling. He was never in the limelight, never made millions, always fighting injuries, and constantly worrying about being cut. He stayed with it because he loved the contact and camaraderie. It’s something we mere mortals may find difficult to comprehend.
I personally enjoy football because of the game itself and not the vicious hits. It’s hard to understand how players can stay focused when they see a fellow “warrior” laid out on the field, unconscious, paralyzed, and being carted off in an ambulance. But, then, I’m not one of them.
“Slow Getting Up” is a fast-paced and enjoyable read but even more importantly enlightens us on the mindset of a professional football player. They truly are a different breed. We may not understand or approve of their violent or childish behavior but it’s part of their culture. Fans should simply accept the “alternative universe” theory and refrain from putting NFL players on a pedestal. It’s about the only sane way to rationalize our love for the game.