I love watching football, but I often have considered professional athletes overgrown, overpaid, egomaniacal children who were completely out of touch with reality. A story I read today on the ESPN website brought my awareness of this problem to a new level.
The story dealt with the numerous pending lawsuits against the NFL by former players who suffered concussions and have lasting effects from them. As I was reading the story, I found myself agreeing with most of what was said. These guys gave their all on the football field, suffered injuries they were pressured to play with, and were left with no long term health care benefits. The owners who made millions on their performances probably owe them a little more than a "thank you" and pat on the behind as they retired.
But then I got to the end of the story where Dennis Harrah, a 12-year veteran of the Los Angeles Rams was telling his story. He said: "They're just fallen heroes. You take care of fallen heroes. Somehow, some way."
As a combat veteran, I take extreme offense to remarks like this. I often hear about how these men playing games on Sundays are "warriors" who "battle it out" on "the field of battle." That irritates me because they have no clue what a real field of battle is, but to compare them to "fallen heroes" is disgusting to me.
These men make more in one game than most soldiers will make in 10 years. Some make more in one game than most soldiers will make in a 20-year career. Soldiers are real warriors who put their lives on the line, literally, so that these men can play their games. The ones who give of their lives are the real fallen heroes.
A football player may be a hero to some, but if they are, then those people need to check out reality. To my knowledge, there has only been one football player who has been a fallen hero and that was Pat Tillman, a man who died defending his country so his buddies could play a game on Sunday.