By Brad Hubbard | @bradhubbard
The game of football is as popular as ever. It’s also receiving more criticism than ever. But on the weekend before Thanksgiving it’s important to recognize that this will be the last time many of these players will ever play the game. On this weekend Harvard hosts Yale for the 131st time and Lehigh takes on Lafayette for the 150th time. Two of the longest running and greatest traditions in all of College Football and the end of a playing career for most.
Unlike most sports, when you’re last organized game ends in football you’re career is done. There may be the occasional throwing around of the football in the backyard but you rarely get an opportunity to strap on the pads, tighten the chin strap, line up and tackle somebody ever again. For some this ends in high school. For others it ends in college and for the rare few it ends on the professional level.
Schools like Harvard, Yale, Lehigh and Lafayette don’t pump out a lot of professional players. These guys do it because they love to play football. For many these games signify the end of a football career. They in all likely hood will never strap on pads again. There are no bowl games or College Football Playoff. They will simply go back to their locker room, take off their pads and hang up their helmet for the final time.
What do they gain by continuing to put their bodies on the line? The opportunity to do something that they love. There is also the camaraderie of their teammates, learning how to be a leader and the chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves.
So when you hunker down for Thanksgiving dinner this week take a moment and give thanks to these young men for going out there week after week for the sheer love of the game.