Growing up in my family, there were a few indisputable truths: One, the San Francisco 49ers were, are, and always will be the greatest football franchise to exist. And two, football was going to be part of my life, and if I had a problem with that, too bad.
My dad was a wide receiver in high school. My older brother was MVP when he played. And when I joined my freshman year, my teammates and coaches had high expectations, but my play was not MVP material. Just three weeks into my freshman season, I bruised my femur during practice in a very unimpressive fashion, and I was out for the season.
Then the next year, my brother broke his ankle. It ended his football career and a year later he still has a limp. And for me, nagging injuries kept adding up. I had ankle issues, cuts and bruises that never seemed to heal, and once I even raced straight from my doctor’s office to the football field after finding out it was okay to play with shin splints.
On top of that, the regimen became more intense. Coaches had us constantly working: more practices, testing us on the playbook, running hour-long agility drills, and guys were downing five scoops of protein powder a day. Turns out the phrase “tastes like cardboard” isn’t always an exaggeration.
This new routine took its toll. My grades slipped because I was too tired to do homework after practice. And most importantly, football wasn’t fun anymore. I asked myself: Is this what I really want? The answer was no, so I left the team.