It’s a huge part of who we are as Americans. It’s big business.
But the game does end. Players and coaches eventually go home to lead lives that don’t involve playbooks or training tables, but bills and grocery lists.
Ever so often something will happen to you or someone you know that brings to light just how minuscule this game truly is in the grand scheme. One of those instances came about for Longhorns linebacker Steve Edmond on Nov. 28, 2013, on a football field of all places.
It happened in the second quarter of Texas’ home finale against Texas Tech, which it won 41-16, when the then-junior linebacker was trying to make a tackle. He’d finished off a team-high 73 prior to this particular play, which ended with him in pain on the ground after a devastating block from Red Raiders receiver Eric Ward.
“Actually when it happened I didn’t feel any pain because when the guy hit me he just knocked the wind out of me,” Edmond recalled. “So I was telling myself to calm down and breath.”
Once the trainers rushed to his side Edmond realized that there was something much more serious going on.
“Once the trainers got out there all the pain just started rushing from the back of my shoulder all the way down my legs,” he said. “Then they rushed me to the hospital. The doctor told me he didn’t know how I walked off the field because I had internal bleeding. That was the worst pain I had ever felt. Every step was just painful.”
Edmond had suffered a lacerated liver.
“When I went inside for the X-ray they were thinking that I had bruised ribs or broken ribs,” Edmond said. “I didn’t think it was that serious until I had CT scan and they told me that I had a Stage 4 out of 5 laceration. My liver ripped all the way in half. Only thing that kept me from having surgery was it didn’t rip into my arteries.”
Football all of a sudden didn’t seem that important. Being able to function as he’d always known, getting out of the hospital without any lasting effects was all Edmond could think about.
Fortunately for Edmond he said he hasn’t experienced any lingering effects, and it’s showed so far this season. He is second on the team behind fellow linebacker Jordan Hicks (22 tackles) with 19 tackles.
That includes two tackles-for-loss, a half-sack, and a quarterback hurry.
“Everyday they tell me that I have the ability [but] I just have to be consistent with it,” said Edmond, who is a member of the watch lists for the 2014 Butkus Award and Rotary Lombardi Award. “I still have mistakes but I’m getting better.”
Things, he said, are starting to come more naturally and that could have a lot to do with him getting in some of the best shape of his life.
“Coming off my injury from last year I wanted to come back in shape and get my strength back,” he said. “I feel like my legs are stronger and my arms are stronger, and I can get players off of me quicker.”
Edmond seems to be benefiting from Vance Bedford’s style of defense, which placed an emphasis on putting players in the best position to make plays while letting their athleticism shine.
He’s also enjoying the perks of playing behind a Texas defensive line that could be the best in the Big 12, and a rejuvenated, and healthy, Hicks, for whom he took the place of as the leader of the linebackers with Hicks missing 19 games over the last two seasons.
“Since Jordan is coming back, we're going to get that leadership that we need and the accountability,” Edmond said. “Like we know that he's going to make the play or he's going to be here when a certain formation comes. I feel like, especially with Peter Jinkens, he brings the energy to the team. Even when he makes a play down field, he's getting [excited] so we just compete off the energy and get ready for the next play.”