Normally I wouldn't share my outgoing emails with the general public, but I think this is something that everyone should think about.
I read an article in ESPN the Mag today about the temptataions and lives of NFL players from their exact point of view. It was written by an Anonymous player who goes by the pen name Player X. I responeded to the article with this:
I would like to just start off telling you who I am so you know exactly where my perspective is coming from; I am 19 years old, I have three brothers, one older, two younger. I grew up in Evanston Illinois, right next to Ryan Field (Dyche Stadium for all us who have been going to games for forever) so as a kid I was raised on football, ever since I can remember me, my brothers and the neighborhood kids were sneaking on to Northwestern's practice field. I never played high school football, though I played just about every other sport the high school had to offer, seriously man, like 5 sports. I always had dreams as a kid of turning pro, at anything, like one day someone was going to scout me and say "son, you are something special here's 40 thousand dollars a year to come play for me at blah blah university" and then draft day and everything. I have to say though, I want the days of you guys having a second job back. Like the way athletes are meant to be treated. Men going out and playing the game because they like to play it. You may not think I have a lot of perspective on that because I'm still a young guy, but watch the MLL, those guys don't have millions of dollars to their name, they don't have ferraris or a Bugatti, and because of that they don't have as much temptation, if a girl saw them at a bar or a club they probably wouldn't even know who they are. I understand that young men in general can easily be convinced to do the wrong thing, I've been a victim of my own ego plenty of times, but if you take yourself out of situations you don't have to worry about taking a risk. Sometimes I wish as a rule that the NFL wouldn't even let professional players touch their money (minus like 50 thousand a year) until they turned like 25, almost like a trust fund because the less money you have the less you'll be able to go to clubs and buy nice cars and clothes and things that make you stand out (I'm not directing this at you by the way, you seem like you understand and see all of these things). I can't feel so bad for people like Ben and Rick because you have to know the risks of going anywhere at all times. Do I think they are bad people? No. I just know that temptation is all around us at all times, we all can do things we shouldn't do and our character is tested in the face of adversity. You have to be strong at all times, if you feel at all like something is wrong or you think 'I really don't know this girl at all' you should probably be counting to ten and walking out the door. Easier said than done, but all good advice is. NFL players should just realize that they are blessed to not have to worry about a meal for their family or not being able to pay a bill and leave life at that, sure you have problems that most people don't have, but they have problems that you don't have either. I only have a little bit of sympathy for guys like them because I will never walk in their shoes, just like they will never walk in mine. I don't hold those bad things against them so much either. Life is balanced like that for guys like us though. Good character is always remembered, on the field and off and players need to remember that. You don't need to be a superstar to be someone that everyone admires. Players like Brett Favre, Ken Griffey jr, Michael Jordan and Tiger woods are so special because they play the game the way it was meant to be played , and because they carry themselves off the field or court very well too. If any player feels like they need a release from the real world, they should take that energy and use it on the field. That's what it's there for. That's what it was made for. People like me created it, people like you perfect it.
On a more personal note, fans like me are waiting to root for people like you. I would buy your jersey in a second, you were right about a lot of stuff in that article. Next time you're at an away game I want you to think of this; Joel Hanrahan has become one of my favorite baseball players to follow, no one really knows who he is in the major sporting world, you probably wont see him on ESPN's top plays or Baseball Tonight; but I was at a Marlins Nats game this spring and he did something that professional athletes don't really ever do. He just talked to us, came up and talked to us on his own. We didn't have to hold a sign or know someone in the organization, he came to us. Normal kids (who were rooting for the Marlins until that point) were able to speak to someone they would give anything to be. The Nats lost that night 9-4, but that was still the most fun i've ever had at a professional sporting event. That night will forever be the most important night in sports for me because I found someone I want to be like. I found someone to look up to. Someone who really has everything he wants, and still wants to get to know me. So, just know man, I'm behind you and hopefully I'll find out who you are someday. Just think about me if you ever need to catch yourself before you make a mistake. The league is counting on you. I'm counting on you.
- John Cole Sorensen