I could have been a professional football player. I am not saying I ever ran as fast as the average NFL wide receiver; or even a below average wide receiver. I also never played college football, so professional scouts were never given the opportunity to scout me. Despite this, the single biggest obstacle to me joining the NFL was not my size or my speed or my lack of college-level experience, but the unalterable fact that I did not want to be a professional football player. Mind you, as a boy I watched football with my father and brother and sister every Sunday from September to January. The four of us formed Kenower Power, our family touch football team, which managed to go undefeated for one glorious fall. I even became the starting wide receiver for my high school’s team. Often, when my father was tossing me fly patterns at the park, I would imagine myself playing for the New England Patriots or the Oakland Raiders, sprinting down the sidelines beneath the stadium’s bright lights, the cheering, the color man’s adulation, more cheering. From a certain distance, it seemed like a good job.
Yet to be a professional football player, I must be willing to spend most of my time playing, practicing, or studying football. I would also be required to spend most of my time with other football players. This is the life of a professional football player. As any writer knows, the public only gets to see the very tip of anyone’s career iceberg. The rest remains submerged beneath the waters of un-glorious work.
I once heard Tom Brady, the current quarterback for the New England Patriots, discuss his love of football. “I love it all,” he said. “I love playing it. I love watching film. I love training camp. I even love wind sprints. Can you believe that? It’s true, though. I love it all.”
Which is why Tom Brady is an NFL quarterback. Any work you love is glorious to you. In fact, work you love is not really work; at least not in the traditional, pragmatic, roof-over-your-head sense. Work you love is life’s gift to you. So I could have been a football player if only I had loved it. I loved writing more. No matter. Love always seeks its fullest expression, a fullness known never in form but in feeling.
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