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Football’s Hidden Pains

This weekend offered two of the best football games of the year, both of which I watched, though turning on the television for Sunday’s games was slightly harder after reading Dan Le Batard’s account of Jason Taylor’s fifteen painful years in the N.F.L., in the Miami Herald. Among the grotesqueries: Needles in the bottom of the foot, needles in the spine, needles in the buttocks. The near-amputation of a leg is involved. As with most stories of this type, Le Batard’s includes this line: “He isn’t bragging, and he isn’t complaining. He wants to make sure you know that. He feels lucky and blessed to have done what he did.” Well, phew. As we watch a game that we know is dangerous, we soothe ourselves with the idea that these men must be aware of the risks, too; that they are being well compensated to take on those risks; and that, at least when they’re on the field, in front of the cameras, they are living the dream that we all craved as kids, and they’re having fun.