Years from now, when your temples are gray and your stomachs aren’t quite as defined, when you are watching your sons suit up and run onto painted fields under stadium lights, you will share stories with the people next to you in the stands of what it was like back in your day. When you see each other at high school reunions, you will reminisce about that pass, that kick, that catch, that tackle.
Hopefully, you will spare a few minutes to talk about the men who were on the sidelines for you. You will realize now their sacrifice. You will better understand the love they had for you then because you have your own kids now and you will realize they loved you as you were their own.
You will wax poetic about long-gone glory days on the gridiron when the crowd was on its feet for you. When an entire community roared its support and approval for you every Friday night. When they put up signs on the side of the highway and cheered for you like you were a celebrity. And you were. For that moment in time, for that one beautiful season, you carried the hopes and dreams of everyone in the stands into the end zone with you. When you booted that kick through the uprights, their pride sailed through too. When you fell, they fell. And then there was the rising. Always, rising. It all happened too fast. Surely it was just yesterday.
When you see your your old teammates, you will see them as they were then. Time won’t have lined your faces or stretched your waistlines. You will remember the ball spiraling through the air and the way the blood pumped through your veins. You will once again be those 18 year olds who stood on the edge of possibility.
Of course, bigger things will have happened to you since then. Things like college and marriage and children. Things that are more important than football. But, hopefully, football will be there in the foundation of your beautiful lives. The times you had to dig deep, to show up, to overcome and to believe. When you were underestimated and had to prove yourself. When you had to trust others. When you had to put your whole heart into something and believe in yourself. In all of those ways, football will be there. And you will always remember this time, this small slice of a few months in the fall of 2017, as a time when anything was possible if you worked hard enough and believed enough. This was your time.