Don’t let the fact they get paid millions of dollars to play a game for a living fool you: Being a professional athlete is an extremely relative experience, and how satisfied any of them really are with their job is largely dependent on circumstances beyond their control.
Never has this reality been any clearer than in today’s NFL, where the pressures that stem by definition from its role as the most popular (and therefore most heavily-scrutinized) sporting league in America ensure every play of every game is an opportunity both for glory and spectacular, cringe-worthy failure on the most epic of possible scales.
Win a championship and you’re a hero for life. Parades will run. Statues will rise. ESPN will give you your own channel. Lose, underachieve, hell just make one bad play at one ill-advised moment for all it matters these days and suddenly you’re Ray Finkle. It’s a brutal world for NFL players right now, and if this sad state of affairs wasn’t already obvious to you long before rumors about Tim Tebow potentially retiring at the age of 25 completely epitomized it back in May, maybe you haven’t been paying attention.
For most NFL players, the approaching 2013 season is a dream come true and, just like the legions of fans who’ve been staving off dementia ever since Super Bowl XLVII commenced back in February, the sooner it gets here, the happier they’ll be. But for others, let’s face it: Unless your team contends for a title or you find a way to distinguish yourself as an elite performer, you’ve got a long eight months ahead of you, friend, and the longer those circumstances remain, the worse it’s going to get.
Just which NFL players find themselves knee-deep in the latter camp heading into this season, you ask?
Let’s find out.