We are now two fourths of the way done with preseason here in Chicago as well as the rest of the NFL and the emotional rollercoaster of emotions is in full affect. Whether you are a wife, girlfriend, coach, family member, or fan, preseason can be a bundle of emotions that may burst at any given moment. It does not matter if you are a seasoned vet, first round draft pick, or the fan favorite; the team that you start preseason with may not be the one that you start the regular season with. For myself, I am at the high of all highs on my rollercoaster ride. My boyfriend was just signed to a four year extension to stay in Chicago yesterday and I could not be happier…but that is to discuss at another time.
Many individuals look at the NFL as all fun and games… and I truly wish that was the case. Each day during the season, I know when I get that alert from the Chicago Bears App that Coach Fox is approaching the podium, that practice is finished. The first thing I do when I get that alert is text Len and ask how practice was?! Every day. By his response, I usually can tell you what type of mood he is going to be in by the time he gets home. These men put in A LOT of hours, and it goes completely unnoticed. As a fan, you may look at it like these men get to play on Sundays and then go on and enjoy the rest of their week. Again, sometimes I truly wish this was the case. During season, there are no such things as off days. Even Tuesdays, which are considered “off days” are often times days spent getting treatment, or lifting. Most days, Len leaves the house around 6AM and does not get home till 6PM, sometimes even later depending on what type of treatment or therapy he may be going into. My point, this career is stressful, no matter what position you are in, so strap up, buckle in, and get ready for another season on the rollercoaster of fun, in the NFL.
I think often times, we forget that the NFL, as well as every other sporting industry, is a business. There is a lot that goes into making a team including the players, coaches, personnel, chemistry, and the list goes on and on. In the best world, everyone would make the team and we would be allowed to have 90 men on each NFL roster, BUT, this is the real world, and come September 3rd, over 1,100 men will be cut from NFL rosters. Luckily, the NFL does allow each team to have a practice squad of about 10 players so about 320 of the 1,100 men will be contacted to join the practice squad of a team… That still leaves over 700 men, jobless.
To the men whose NFL careers are cut short: Congratulations on making it this far! Many of you have played football for many years and the things that you have accomplished are amazing! Even making it to a Division 1, Division 2, or Division 3 school and playing out your college career is a BIG deal. This is not the end of the road for you. Take the fact that you made it this far as a positive motivation to do whatever your heart desires moving forward. Sometimes the things that you think that you want most are the best things to never happened to you! If you do choose to continue to pursue your dream of playing in the NFL, take every step that you can possibly think of to perfect your craft. Hard work and dedication will never go unnoticed. For those of you, who decide to pursue other dreams, I give the same words of advice to you; hard work and dedication will never go unnoticed!
To the men whose NFL careers are just beginning: Congratulations to you as well! You have worked so hard to get to this point in your life and believe me, it is just the beginning! Remember, whether you are starting, a backup, or on the practice squad, you have officially put your names in the books for making it to the NFL, give yourself a big round of applause! For many of you, this is the biggest, life changing event that has ever occurred. I am sure everything has changed for you within the past few months from your living environment, coaching staff, paychecks, and daily routines, just to name a few. Remember, stay true to yourself and put in the work. Never, ever feel as if you wont get your chance because you never know when you may. Go into each day with the next man up mentality. This is just the beginning of your crazy rollercoaster of a ride through the NFL!
To the vets: Congratulations and shout out to you for coming back for another season. Whether you just won a super bowl, signed a new contract, were traded, or had a baby during offseason, you know better than anyone as to what it takes to be in the league. Congratulations for putting in the work day in and day out, for being a role model to not only young children, but young men on your team, and for coming to work day after day, year after year, no matter how banged your body may feel. We appreciate all the hard work that you do to make the NFL possible.
Lastly, to the women & families: Whether your man is a rookie or a vet, on a team, fighting to make a team, or leaving the NFL, you probably deal with this emotional rollercoaster more than anyone. You are the person that deals with the sore bodies, the frustration after a loss, the excitement after a contract extension, the sadness after an injury, and the confusion after a cut. YOU are the emotional supporter of the home. You must take in every bit of emotion and hold it together because if you cannot during your mans moment of weakness, who will? So, to you women, CONGRATULATIONS on making it half way through preseason. For some of you, preseason is a breeze with the only thing you are worrying is your man health. For others, preseason is the most stressful time of year, waiting to hear if your man will be staying on your current team, or going to another. Often times, I do not think women get enough credit for being that emotional support that their man needs, especially during the season, so I am saying on behalf of everyone involved in this sport, THANK YOU. Your hard work and dedication does not go unnoticed either!
Whether you are entering the NFL, leaving the NFL, or even just looking to get involved in a new job setting… Life is hard. It is supposed to be. Keep a positive mindset and keep striving to become a better version of yourself today, than you were yesterday. Congratulations on making it this far, I promise it is just the beginning!
Best of luck to you in your future endeavors and enjoy your rollercoaster ride!