No other sport chews up bodies the way professional football does. Every week's action is followed by a list of knee and neck and shoulder injuries, the list so long that the names mostly blur and become anonymous. The essence of the game is danger, and the players are stuntmen, young and fearless, throwing themselves into peril on every down. It is a fact you forget most of the time, wondering instead what the next play will be, third and long, pass or draw, but it also is a fact you remember soon enough when the stunts go wrong with someone you know.
"I'm not a talker," Dykes says. "I never gave a speech to the team until last year. I came back to talk to everyone before our game at Buffalo. Mostly what I said was that they should remember that no matter what their record was or how big an underdog they were, they were doing something that a million people out there would love to do. Including me."
I nod at the truth of his comment. I wish him well in his comeback. What else can I say? There is a certain sense of guilt involved here, is there not? His troubles are the price for our entertainment.