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The Next Play

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With the minutes winding down every instant became an hour, and every second a century. The game was basically over; we were down by about 21 on what were our last moments of the brotherhood that we had formed not just since the three previous grueling months but all the way back to the 7th grade when we all were just goofing around on the middle school practice field. When the buzzer finally sounded it echoed across the stands, the city, and our hearts. The game was over, and the 6 years we all had spent working, sweating, and hurting ourselves silly was about to be completely over, only a memory to be remembered and skewed in our later years.

We weren’t really sure what to do, so we just stood there staring at the scoreboard before lining up on the 50-yard line to shake hands with the other team. We turned back to walk to the crowd, and had a simultaneous breakdown. The feelings flowed through our eyes, showing that even the tough guys will breakdown. Hugs were given, embraces that we wish could last a lifetime. The crowd mingled in with us, and strangers that we didn’t know congratulated us for never quitting when our backs were against the wall. There was a moment of confusion when all of us thought, “What do we do next?” Some of us had plans for the future, some of us had an idea of where to start, and then there were some who had no clue, and the light that football had brought to our lives was snuffed out. Our entire football career had been about playing until the whistle blows, and then focusing on the next play, the next play, and the next play. Now there was no next play, no whistle being blown. The worst part of it was that we had a horrible season, going 1-9 after a 6-4 year, only winning our homecoming game. We left football with a bad taste, a sour note that will ride with us forever. Everyone talked about how they didn’t want to play football anymore that they wouldn’t want to go through a season of feelings like that again.

I couldn’t take it, refused to live with that feeling. I could not go out that badly and end my career right there. I would feel as if I had let everyone down and that they would feel bad because I couldn’t do anything to make the season better for them. So I decided right there that I would continue, that I would go back to the huddle and get ready for the next play – college football.





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