What it's really like to retire and how NFL should handle concussions
The honor I feel as the first Monday Morning Quarterback guest columnist is only eclipsed by the pressure. It's one thing to play football in front of 80,000 fans on Sundays, but it's quite another to write about it knowing 1.5 million of you are used to a pro like Peter King. I feel a little like
A few football topics:
• I don't think
• On the field, I think the league needs to come up with minimum guidelines that each team must follow when a player suffers a concussion. I've learned firsthand the biggest factor after a concussion is time. With both of my concussions, the Chiefs and Dolphins made sure I didn't return to the field too soon. This is where it gets tricky. The player has to be honest with himself and the medical staff. In most cases, that is the only way to tell. Where this becomes difficult for a player is the football mindset. Whenever you start playing football, it is instilled from Day 1 to work through the pain. Bruises, sprains, strains, cramps, a little crack here, or a little tear there. All of it you can work through, it just depends on how mentally tough you are. That's what players, coaches and team doctors all have to deal with. It is just not smart, though, when dealing with the brain. So until more research can be done about long-term brain damage associated with multiple head injuries, the NFL needs to step up and set some minimum guidelines for teams to follow.
• If the league wants to expand the regular season by a game or two, there will need to be some significant changes in other areas. I understand trying to maximize profit. If you add more regular-season games it changes the television dollars, radio dollars, advertising and licensing dollars, parking, concessions and on and on. The way teams practice and the number of days they practice, both in season and off-season, will need to be examined. With football becoming year round now -- and don't tell me spring camps are "voluntary" -- there needs to be concern for increased injuries. I can hear people now say, "As much as players are paid ..." True, players are well compensated, but there becomes a point of diminishing returns. Players need to take care of themselves year round and teams/coaches need to look into training/practice variables that will maintain high production for a lengthened season.
• You may have heard I recently
As far as my decision, there were a lot of factors. My family and I were committed to living in our house in Kansas City this fall and I didn't want to rent a condo for five months during the season and live away from them. Also, primarily serving as a backup last season was something I hadn't experienced in more than a decade and wasn't too eager to repeat. And in the end, it was just the right time. I had an incredible experience in my 15-year career. All of the players, coaches, and personnel people I worked with gave me a lifetime of memories. And the fans -- wow. The passion with which you support your teams is humbling and does not go unnoticed.
1) I think with teams going pass happy, there will be at least 10 quarterbacks to throw for more than 4,000 yards this season. Seem like a lot? I see six locks and seven more with potential. Let's break it down:
2) I think I'm going crazy because I feel like we've been talking about Brett Favre and his retirement since the new millennium. You want to play, Brett? I hope you do. I've always enjoyed watching you play. But please decide by the start of training camp.
3) I think I like that
4) I think there will be no sophomore slump for either
5) I think Peyton Manning will be required to do even more this year, if that's possible. With all of the changes going on in Indy, he'll need to help with the transition in the locker room and on the field. But I think he is up to it. He is a year removed from his knee issues and will have some time to spare, instead of just rehabbing all day.
6) I think, actually I know, that
7) I think the NFL, teams and players need to be very careful how they handle the upcoming negotiations for an extension to the CBA. With the economy the way it is, everyone in league circles needs to be aware of how they portray their side of things through the media. People are not going to want to hear flippant remarks concerning multi-million dollar deals.
8) I think that brings me to ticket prices. Where are the family seats at most stadiums now? Teams need to realize they are pricing out a huge part of their fan base. DirecTV is great and watching games in high definition is amazing. But absolutely nothing can beat watching a game live. The atmosphere, the grill smells, the people all dressed in team apparel, the elements, the live sound of a good tackle, 80,000 people all cheering at the same time -- you can't replicate the experience. I'd like to see all owners set aside a few sections for reasonably priced seating so parents can afford to take their kids.
9) I think these are my non-football thoughts of the week:
a) When you are moving into a new house and it is in the mid-90s outside, always remember to have the TV people there the first day. Three kids plus a house full of boxes plus too hot to go outside does not equal quality family time.
b) I was recently in Cooperstown, N.Y., with my son's baseball team for a tournament. My wife and I decided to take the family to Niagara Falls after the tournament because we had never been and didn't know when we would get back to that part of the country. The Falls is truly amazing. If you're going, take the time to get a passport. The views from the Canadian side will literally make you just stand there and stare.
c) If you're going to St. Louis for the MLB All-Star Game you have to take the time to go to Ted Drewe's Frozen Custard. You won't be disappointed.
d) Up to this point in my life (I'll be 39 in a couple of weeks), nothing gives me more pride than watching my kids, whether it be seeing them hold a door open for someone, or share something with a sibling without being asked or overcoming something on the athletic fields. Parenting is both difficult and very rewarding.
e) For me, now is when reality kicks in. For those of you that think retired athletes sleep in, work out, play a little golf, maybe get a massage, I've got news for you: The Greens would make for a great reality show to destroy all those Hollywood stereotypes about retirement. Because youth baseball practices and games consume a lot of our evenings, we rarely have time for the five of us to sit down for dinner. We found a rare opportunity last week and about five minutes into the meal,
10) I think I hope Peter King has a great vacation. Thank you for allowing me this opportunity.