NFL: There Is Nothing Like the Fight To Get Into the Playoffs

Jarrod CooperCorrespondent IDecember 9, 2010

SAN DIEGO, CA - DECEMBER 5: Head Coach Tom Cable of the Oakland Raiders shakes the hand of Head Coach Norv Turner of the San Diego Chargers after the Raiders 24-13 victory during their NFL game at Qualcomm Stadium on December 5, 2010 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Donald Miralle/Getty Images

The NFL playoff race is most electric during the holidays and this year will be no different. 

The race to the playoffs has not hit us in such dramatic fashion in years. With so many teams so close to getting in, these last few weeks of the season mean so much more. 

Teams that didn't have a chance two weeks ago find themselves right in the mix, and a few teams who thought they had a free ticket to the playoffs are finding out that it's not going to be so easy.

Having played in the playoffs myself, I can tell you that the only thought going through a player's head right now is going that extra mile to ensure your team's position in the playoffs. 

Think about it: Every year, it comes down to a couple teams fighting to make it to the Super Bowl—you don't want to be known forever as the guy that blew the big play and knocked your team out to the playoffs. 

There are a few guys every year that are burdened for the rest of their lives because they didn't take the situation seriously.

When playoffs come around, players shift mind and body into another gear. I've heard coaches dispute this fact—they would like to think all players play with this mindset all the time—but there is something special about the playoffs that takes over the NFL. 

It's a combination of accomplishment, excitement, the fact that the season is almost over and, let's not forget, playing for a chance to be a world champion.

Playoff games have an electric pulse that flows through every single person in the stadium. The lights are brighter, the grass is greener and everything seems to have a glow like it's being played in blu-ray. 

The plastic smell of the new jerseys that are made just for the playoffs lingers in your helmet as you go through pregame warmups. Most playoff games are accompanied with fireworks or some kind of military fly over—this charges the crowd up to the point of insanity. 

At kickoff, everyone is so fueled up players have to remind each other to focus on the task at hand. 

Any player who's made an appearance in the playoffs has had his own personal experience, one that will never be duplicated in his lifetime. When a player gets that sweet taste of the playoffs, he is ruined, nothing else will ever quench his thirst and he will fight the rest of his career to get another shot of the playoffs.   

Players who haven't felt the heartbeat of the playoff arena will never have an idea of what the NFL is really about.

I feel sorry for the guys that play in the NFL for years and don't get that chance.