I love the game of football.
That does not make me special at all. Millions of people love the game just as much as me, some probably even more.
I guess the love of the game for me started on my fourth birthday, when I received a Kordell Stewart jersey as a gift from my Steelers fan uncle John.
So I was four-years-old, I could probably tell you the team colors and that is about it, but it was a start.
After that my life is a blur as far as the football aspect goes up until the fifth grade. Organized football is at one of its lowest levels.
I can remember wanting so badly to quit that dreadful sport. The one that made an overweight fifth grader run entirely too much for him to like it. The one that made you play in the cold, rainy Ohio fall and winter.
This is where I have to stop, thank both of my parents, and one of their rules that I felt was completely unfair and stupid at the time.
"Once you start something, you can't quit."
Needless to say, I did not quit.
I started both ways that year. In the following four years. Both ways, all game long. I got in shape really quickly.
By this point, I've grown to love the game, loved leaving it all on the field.
I won a total of 1 game in the first four years of my football career. Including a 49-7 trouncing courtesy of Kevin Dahl and the North Canton Hoover Middle School Vikings in eighth grade. That game was in Fawcett Stadium (where the Hall Of Fame game is played on a yearly basis).
High school hit and I focused on my defensive game, playing alongside some of the finest guys I've ever had the pleasure of suiting up with. We went 7-3 that year, the same record as freshman as the last team from our school had the year they won the state tournament.
The next three years would see me playing primarily defense and would all end prior to the state finals. It's really heartbreaking to be two games away and have it all torn away. I'll admit that I cried.
Now what do I do?
Sitting here at 5'8'' and 170lbs. I don't have too many options, semi-professional arena league teams near me have caught my eye and I've been tempted to try out. There's always the option of walking onto a division II school as a safety as well.
Of course, I know that the NFL is nowhere near my future as far as playing goes, so I do the next best thing.
I write about it.
I try and get a whole new generation of fans to fall in love with the game like I did.
While growing up I was exposed to one style of football almost exclusively.
Hard hitting, defensive football. That's why I fell in love with the Pittsburgh Steelers. That's why I consider a running back to be most effective between the tackles.
That's also the reason that I don't like players with huge egos, it's a team game, you didn't win it single-handedly, stop acting like you did, right?
As much as I hated losing, going to practice, sitting in films, getting constantly yelled at by coaches and going an astounding 1-39 in my first four years (yeah, that still stings) I loved every second of it. And I'd give almost anything to have even one of those years back.
I love everything about the sport.
The hits, blocks, throws, catches heck, I even love the kicking game.
I simply cannot get enough of the sport.
Luckily my legacy can live on through my little brother. We watch him play and we all immediately drew the parallel to myself, the way he runs and more importantly the way that he loves the game.
I remember nearly every second of every game and I love talking about them almost as much as my grandfather loves telling old war stories. I would be absolutely elated for people to take an interest and ask me some questions about my playing days.