The Side of Football That The Fans Don't See

When you think about guys who play football in the SEC, you first think about the glamour of playing big-time college ball in front of 50,000+ to 100,000+ fans and a huge television audience that will number in the millions. However, there is a price to pay for all that comes with that glamour and attention.

And Mississippi State junior offensive lineman Brian Anderson knows that price all too well.

"This will be my third year and I haven't taken as many beatings as someone like (MSU senior offensive lineman) big Johnny (Wadley), but I have my share of aches and pains," said Anderson, as he looked toward Wadley who was sitting on a bench cutting off what seemed like an entire roll of tape wrapped around each of his ankles. "Mine are mostly in my ankles and knees. Even the arches in my feet hurt. But for bigger guys like Johnny, it's probably his knees and hips."

And he's just getting started, folks. Offensive linemen are taught to use their hands as much as possible. But it comes with a price.

"Your fingers and shoulders also hurt," said Anderson. "My fingers will stay permanently swollen, especially in the knuckles. They are swollen now. You are using them in every play. They'll get in between the facemask and get smashed. They'll even get stuck in a jersey and get twisted."

He almost sounds like he's talking about a baseball catcher. "Yeah, but without a mitt," said Anderson, with a smile on his face.

And his aches and pain won't magically end once he takes a shower and heads to class or wherever he may go.

"As long as you continue moving, it's not really that bad," he said. "But, for me, if I sit down or take a nap, when I get up, it doesn't feel good. It mainly affects my ankles."

And, if you think it's bad after a quick nap, don't even think about the morning. Let's just say he now understands why we folks in our 50's don't jump out of bed like we did when we were in our 20's and 30's.

"When I get up in the morning, I don't feel better," said Anderson. "I wouldn't say I feel completely stiff, but making it to the bathroom in the morning is not fun. You look like...I guess I would say my folks."

The only thing that offers any relief is, ironically, the very reason for the aches and pains in the first place, football practice.

"Once you get going and moving out here in practice and get loose, it eventually goes away," said the 6-5, 300-pounder.

But, really, it never goes away, at least not during the season.

"You won't feel 100% until after the season is over, especially the linemen," said Anderson. "And it will be a long time after the season ends before you feel 100% again."

Despite all the aches and pains that come with being a football player, the highs, according to Anderson, are worth every last one of them.

"It's no fun and you may get down when you lose, but, man, when you win a game like we did against Florida last year, for me, it's all worth it," said the starting left tackle, as he slowly rises and walks toward the door leading into the Holliman Athletic Center.

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network. You can contact him by email at

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