Playing Hurt Is Just Part Of The Game
November 10, 2000
Have you ever wondered how a football player is able to play such a physical game when he is hurt? If a player has told you that he never had an injury or has been hurt, he is lying. Being hurt is just part of the game and it is something that every player must deal with. Sometimes I wonder if there is ever a time when a player steps onto the field for a game at 100%. If you think about it, it would be very tough. Okay, some might say that during the first game of the season there has to be a player that is playing at a 100%, but if you think about it a team does not just step out onto the field and play the first game. They first must go through rigorous training during "two-a-days". Thus everyone has to be sore, hurt, brusied, or injured and therefore their bodies are not at 100%. Every time you play a game, the challenge is to understand what percentage your body is at and ultmiately use every ounce of what you have and remain hopeful that you have more than the guy across from you! Remember, he is playing hurt too.
Many people have heard the saying, if you're hurt you can play but if you're injured you can't. I disagree with this statement. I have seen players play with serious injuries and I have seen players with mild cramps pull them out. The ultimate judge of whether you are going to play is not your body, but your mind and heart. For it is what is inside a player that is going to keep him playing or not. The best medicine for a player is his love for the game and his ability to mentally focus on blocking out the pain and concentrating on playing. When you combine love and focus, a player can make up for those percentages that he is missing and thus overcome the pains of the game. Rusty Williams said it best, "if you are not sore or hurt after you have played a game, then you're not playing the game right."
Speaking of Rusty, I wanted to ask him what he thought about a player playing injured because he has been able to keep playing with some serious injuries. This is what he had to say:
"You play hurt because it is part of the game, more than 90% of the guys playing the game of football play hurt. So many guys play hurt because they know if they are not playing, their injury will hurt ten times more. Everyone that plays football has an ability to be mentally tough, but the players that are hurt can dig deep inside themselves to find the ability to block out the pain. Game time is the most enjoyable part of playing this game, so if you are not out there, then you are cheating yourself."
Rusty Williams is a tough guy that loves to play the game of football. You might think "well I am pretty tough." Well, let me ask you if you think you would play in the games that Rusty did with the injuries he had. In the second quarter of our game against Cal, Rusty hurt his foot. He did not know how bad, but continued to try to play until the coaches took him out in fear he would hurt it more. We came to find out that Rusty broke his foot. You would've thought that he would not be able to play the next week, but he did. He also hurt his shoulder in the Oregon State game, in which his shoulder game out of the socket three times. Again he continued to play. You might ask how he was able to do this, to which Rusty said he had a special technique called "climbing the ladder". The bottom of the ladder is the Sunday after the game and the top of the ladder is the following Saturday. What he does, is take each day as a step closer to the top of the ladder and, as you can see, it takes a special player to play the game hurt.
Philosophy of the Week