We argue about it. We plan our schedules around it. We even have fantasy leagues based on it.
In the end, though, it's just a game.
Nothing made this more apparent than the sickening sight of Buffalo TE Kevin Everett being taken away in an ambulance on Sunday, after lying motionless on the turf for what seemed like an eternity.
Everett was rushed to the hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery for what doctors called a catastrophic and life-threatening spinal cord injury.
Later, surgeon Dr. Andrew Cappuccino didn't deliver much in the way of good news, saying he told Everett that “the chances for a full neurologic recovery were bleak, dismal”.
I don't know if Kevin Everett will make a full recovery, but I do know this:
Football is the furthest thing from his mind.
Which brings me back to my earlier point:
It's just a game.
But if it's just a game, why do football players put their bodies at risk on a weekly basis?
The cynics will tell you it's all about the money, the fame, the celebrity.
But they’re wrong.
The practices, the pounding, the inability to walk the day after a game—these aren’t about glory.
The real reason players play is the simplest one of all:
They love the game.
Let's face it—all the money in the world isn’t worth getting paralyzed for, no matter how selfish a player may seem.
Next time you watch your favorite team laying it all on the line, take a minute to appreciate the sacrifice these athletes make so you can be entertained.
And next time you hear someone talk about how selfish and overpaid football players are, do me a favor:
Ask them to tell that to Kevin Everett.