I may only be one week away from having my jaw unwired, so that I may once again enjoy food in a form other than completely liquid. And already I'm thinking about the possibilities of returning to the source of my injury...playing football. You see, my annual outdoor football league is set to begin on September 10, and having played in that league for the last 7 years, it just wouldn't seem right to not begin a September or October Sunday with a trip to the local field for football.
But, J-Man, you got your jaw broken playing football and have been miserable for the past 6 weeks as a result. Do you really want to risk going through all that again? The simple answer...Yes. You see, many people have weaknesses in their lives...things they love and can't seem to do without...and mine is playing recreational football. I've been playing a variety of touch, flag and tackle football since I was probably 10 years old and I never seem to get tired of it.
There's something wonderful and fulfilling about making an interception, or catching a touchdown amongst several defenders, or taking down an opposing quarterback to win your team the game. It's a time when I can line up on the same field with complete strangers, and we can all forget our jobs, our mortgages, our kids (well, not me) and our stresses, and focus on one common goal...getting into the endzone.
Is playing risking another injury? Yes, but so is living everyday, driving a car, drinking a beer with buddies, or even just walking up and down the stairs of your house. Hell, I've been injured numerous times in my life, doing all sorts of things, but I just move on from the regular cuts, bruises, finger jams, and injuries such as these:
4th Grade: My older brother tied my sweatshirt sleeves together behind my back and tripped me, cutting my chin open to the bone, requiring me to get 20 stitches.
6th Grade: My younger brother pushed a clothing rack in a store off of a ledge onto my head, cutting my forehead open. The amount of blood that covered my face made it seem much worse than it actually was.
7th Grade: An inside pitch in a baseball game hits me in my left knee, knocking my knee cap out of place, and chipping a corner of it. My favorite part of this moment is my older brother, and several other players on the team, telling me to "walk it off."
12th Grade: In an outdoor football game, my buddy Tim spears me while trying to take down a pile of players, giving me a concussion and a life threatening, baseball-sized bruise on my right temple. Despite the injury, and the fact that I couldn't see clearly for about 45 minutes, I drove myself home and even went to work that night. It was only the next day when I realized how bad things were and the doctor wasn't happy I waited so long.
Sophomore Year in College: After a Spring Break night of drinking, I badly sprain my right knee slipping on a hill on a rainy night. You would think I would have mastered the art of walking by this point in my life.
Junior Year in College: While throwing beer bottles at a 'sorority' adjacent to my fraternity, I pass out mid-throw and come to with a faucet of blood pouring from my nose. A drunken trip to the emergency room is always fun, but when B-Man (who came with me) knocked over some sort of gas container and it started hissing, we were definitely made to feel unwanted. I still have a hole cut in the cartiledge between my nostrils to this day.
2001: While I attempted to steal the ball in basketball, the opposing player slashed his arms around, bending my right thumb back to my wrist. Six weeks of physical therapy and a cortizone shot later, and I'm good as new. Honestly, the cortizone shot was really the difference maker...that is some amazing shit.
2004: An opponent in a football game dives to prevent me from catching a ball, only to land with his shoulder on the outside of my right knee, twisting it in until it slammed into the back wall of the endzone. A partially torn MCL, a month of wearing a metal knee brace, and two visits to a physical therapist and I'm running again.
June 30, 2006: Everything goes black after I dive for an onside kick recovery, and here we are 6 weeks later with my jaw wired shut.
Injuries are part of life, and I'm not giving up one of my favorite things without a fight.