When watching professional football on any given Sunday (heh), there is a basic understanding of what a player has to do to get to that point.
The physical work, mental grind, and athletic engine working together to get to game day is a challenge unlike any that is presented in any other sport. This isn’t to take away from other athletes in other arenas, but being an NFL player is a grueling process. And few stories encapsulate that better than Kyle Long’s story.
Long retired after a seven-year career with the Chicago Bears at the age of 31. He was a three-time Pro Bowler, a second-time All-Pro in 2014, and one of the most popular Bears when he was suiting up. And now, Dan Pompei of The Athletic provides a glimpse at the physical toll that Long took throughout his professional career.
Check it out:
Just a few months earlier, Kyle Long was killing it. So why did he quit at 30 after just seven NFL seasons? A lot can be explained in 16 surgery scars. https://t.co/NjnBPGxSdg
— Dan Pompei (@danpompei) May 21, 2020
In telling Long’s story, Pompei weaves through the mental, physical, and emotional tolls of playing professional football. Long shares the details of what the body and mind goes through in what is a unique behind-the-scenes look at what we don’t get to see on game day. It’s a lot, and I encourage you to give it a good read whenever possible.
It’s tough to wrap your mind around how much Long physically went through during his time with the Bears. And with so much of it coming before he was 30 is brain-bending. To put himself through that much, push through, and excel for as long as he did says a lot about Long’s drive, toughness, tenacity, and greatness on the field. But it also says so much about what so many NFL Players put themselves through to just to play in the league.
And then there’s this from the cutting-room floor:
One thing I forgot to mention in the Pompeii story was the impact that great teammates can have on your psyche and morale. I remember Leno being there for everything that I went through physically and he was always willing to work w me to recover. Teammates man
— Kyle (@Ky1eLong) May 21, 2020
Yep, you should give this Pompei piece a full read at some point in the near future.