I remember watching NFL football as a young kid. I loved watching quarterback Len Dawson play with the Kansas City Chiefs. I loved playing football in the grass and the mud with my friends. When I was able to play on a team, all the better. In the seventh grade, I played flag football and started at the center position, hiking the ball to the quarterback. The next year I was cut from the eighth grade team.
When I started Cupertino High School in the ninth grade, I was determined to make the team. I often played as hard as I could. I started the freshman football team on defense at Defensive Tackle. In the second game against Mountain View High School, I had a quarterback sack. I was defensive captain for the next week’s game. I was honored as one of the best Defensive Tackles, first team All-League player at my position. I was injured in later years and never played football another year on a high school team. Yet my experience was priceless. I learned a great deal about hard work, focus, discipline, motivation, and teamwork.
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area in Northern California, USA, watching the Oakland Raiders win three World Championships and the San Francisco 49ers win five Super Bowls. I watched coaches like Bill Walsh and John Madden lead their teams with brilliance and class. I loved watching players like Ronnie Lott, because of his values. He would talk about how he loved his fellow players. I learned a great deal about life and success watching the NFL.
For many years, I have been learning about the brain and repetitive brain trauma. A very high percentage of players at the high school, college, and professional levels are effected. According to research cited by Dr. Daniel Amen, ninety-six percent of NFL players have brain damage and seventy-nine percent have CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). Former NFL superstars such as Frank Gifford and Ken Stabler suffered from CTE. This condition of CTE causes memory loss, confusion as well as aggression, depression, suicidality, and later in life, dementia. Dr. Bennet Omalu deserves enormous respect and praise for his courageous research to understand CTE.
NFL players have been in the news for allegedly committing domestic violence and sexual assault. I have mixed feelings about football. It has taught me many great lessons. Yet, I can see that it is a violent and dangerous game in many ways. I feel fortunate to have played the game. I respect those men who play the game well, who live with integrity and honor.
Please watch this video by Manuel Costa about the life of an NFL Player: