Every beginning has an end. And every end is a new beginning.
It's a relentless cycle seen in every aspect of our lives. The football season is no exception.
A year starts; a year ends, only to give birth to another.
As much as I anticipate the start of a new season, I know that fate says it will cease.
The weeks pass and I engulf myself in all things football: watching games, reading articles, debating the polls. But, somewhere in the back of my mind, I know that as every week passes, the end draws near.
This past weekend and the weekend upcoming marks for most colleges a tradition simply known as—Senior Day—a day set aside to honor those who'll play their last home game as a college football athlete.
Bittersweet to say the least.
For four or five years, these young men have put their heart and soul into playing this game we so love.
They've logged hundreds of hours on the field in both practice and in games. They've watched film and studied tape all in the name of becoming the best player they could be.
And let's not forget the time spent in class to fulfill their academic requirements—the lectures, the exams, the labs, and the study groups.
No, it hasn't been easy, but it has been worth every minute.
They've laughed; they've cried; they've leaped; they've fallen down; they've felt the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
And now it's over.
When the whistle blows at the end of the fourth quarter, it'll be the last time they'll hear that sound on their home field.
The last time they'll stand in the middle of thousands upon thousands of adoring fans. The last time they'll hear the band play the Alma Mater.
Sure, many of these seniors will go to the NFL and earn large paychecks for doing what they love to do, but deep inside their beings they know that it won't measure up to the thrill of playing college football.
That thrill is playing for pride and the pure love of the game. Playing, because this is what you've dreamed about since you were six years old.
The dream was in every way exactly how you imagined it to be.
The seniors will have their parents on the sidelines this day. They'll hug and smile and most assuredly take pictures, trying to freeze this moment in time.
They'll wrap their arms around their fellow players who are feeling the same emotion but somehow can't describe it.
And they'll look up into the stands, up at us as we watch in awe of such a spectacle.
How is it we get so enamored by these players, these young men we never have and never will meet?
We've spent hours with them, and they don't even know our names.
We've laughed; we've cried; we've leaped; we've fallen down; we've felt the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.
All from the comfort of our living rooms.
Someway, somehow, we've bonded with these senior players and it's as hard to see them go as it is for them to say goodbye.
We'll watch them play their last home game and anticipate the bowl game that marks the official end of their careers.
And as they take off their helmets and raise them in salute, we'll raise our hands to return the gesture.
The whistle has blown, the game is over, it's time to go home.
And as these players walk out through the tunnel one last time, another group is coming in for the first.
So begins the cycle once again.
Thanks for the memories, Seniors.
Good luck in whatever the future holds.