In my 10 years in the NFL, (like I was the one who was playing) I saw my husband go through a lot.
Everyone thinks football is nothing but touchdowns, Super Bowls and wins. They think the men out there on the field are invincible, unstoppable, almost superhero like; that players make a butt-load of money, so they and their families should be grateful, never complain and take the hits with a smile. But there is another side to football; a side you don’t see, or even understand until you experience it first hand. It’s not always Super Bowls and touchdowns. These men aren’t invincible, they are human.
I watched my husband put his heart, soul, and body on the line for the love of the game. Witnessing, first hand, the highs, and lows of playing professional football. I, too, felt all of this with him. I would celebrate the good times and have a broken heart and stay by his side during the bad times. I’ve been there through COUNTLESS injuries. From ankle sprains to broken fingers, concussions, a fractured back, slipped discs in his back where he lost feeling in his leg, calf and toes for months (he’s still not right to this day), two shoulder surgeries… you name a body part, it has probably either been sprained, broken or really jacked up. I felt helpless as the years went by and it got harder to bounce back from injuries. There were many many months of recovery and rehab for some of the injuries. Some he wasn’t able to play with his team for almost an entire football season. During the off season, while the healthy players were able to enjoy their time with family, he was at the facility trying to get back to “Marcus Trufant, the Pro Bowler.” We would pray that he would recover enough to return to his livelihood.
I felt scared the days that he couldn’t get up at all. These are the days that aren’t really talked about. These are the darker days of football. I’ll never forget his 9th season with the Seahawks. After the last game of the season, the next morning he was unable to get out of bed. He was riddled with pain. It was VERY unlike Marcus to let pain get him down, but he physically could not move. I looked in his eyes and I could see and feel his pain. I was beyond worried. He slowly peeled himself out of bed, one limb at a time. I heard and felt the groans and moans. It hurt my heart to see my husband like this. Once he was able to get up, he could function. Not at his normal level, but he was moving and for that I was thankful. This lasted almost two weeks, where every morning it was a struggle to get out of bed. I was so grateful to God for it being the last game of the season. I don’t think he would have been able to return to his team if it would have happened during the season. But NOTHING compares to what happened his eighth season…I decided for the first time in my football-wife career to have the wives and girlfriends over to my house to watch the Sunday game. It was an away playoff game, the Seattle Seahawks vs the Chicago Bears. It was potluck style so everyone brought a dish, I had the mimosas and it was game on! About halfway through the game, Marcus was playing corner and he went down low to tackle a HUGE tight end and his head collided with the player’s knee.
All I see is him lying on the ground, not moving, with his arms stiff. He was knocked out. Time stopped. I had an out of body experience. All I remember is dropping to the ground and whimpering “oh no” over and over. The “oh no” turned into “wake up, Marcus, wake up.”
I sat there, so helpless, as the tv cut to commercial. The game returns and Marcus is still lying on the ground not moving and there are a ton of people around him. His teammates are on the sidelines on one knee, looking mortified. I really don’t remember what all the women were doing around me. I just know I couldn’t get off my living room floor. It cut to commercial again. The game returns and Marcus is STILL not moving. This time you see the stretcher and paramedics running onto the field. I start praying. Just praying. I don’t know what I said, but I kept praying. Praying for the Lord to spare his life.
The game comes back on and they secure his neck so they can safely get him on the stretcher. They get him on the stretcher and the crowd claps and cheers as they wheel him off of the field. The crowd’s worries were now over. Back to the playoffs for them. But my worries were far from over. I remember the commentator saying that Marcus had opened his eyes and I just remember getting up, going to the bathroom and crying my eyes out. I couldn’t believe this had happened. Being so far away and I was unable to hold his hand, to kiss him and tell him everything was going to be alright. Marcus was taken to a local hospital in Chicago where he remained over night for observation. His teammates returned home. I was a hot mess until later that evening when my phone rang. It was one of the doctors and he wanted to update me on Marcus’ condition. He told me he was awake, knew who he was, knew he had kids and was very tired. He told me I could speak with him for just a moment.
When Marcus said hello, I can’t explain the relief, happiness, thankfulness, gratefulness, you name an emotion and in the second I probably felt it. We talked for about three minutes and I could tell he wasn’t quite himself. He told me he had no clue what had happened until he finally came-to in the ambulance, and he was still confused even then. He was cleared to leave the next afternoon and returned home. I had never been more happy to see my love. God had spared him and sent him back home to his family. Thank you, Lord. He returned to the Seahawks the next season and continued to have small concussions. Concussions, that to the nude eye, you would never know had occurred. He would tell me after the game that he got hit, would black out for a second or see stars, shake it off, get back up and continue to play. I was fearful when some of the concussions were great enough that he had to miss practices for the week. But what do you do? Tell him to quit the only thing he’s known since the fifth grade? As a wife, all I could do was support him and pray.
That is the side of football that many don’t know about. It’s starting to come to light more with all of the devastating things that are happening due to football-related concussions. It’s not just concussions. It’s the countless injuries that NFL players have to live with that will affect them and their families for the rest of their lives. The NFL barely wants to take responsibility for players lifelong injuries. Also, keep in mind all players don’t make a million dollars and they put their bodies on the line for years and leave with very little. But their injuries, those don’t go away. They will be a constant reminder of their sacrifice, for the rest of their lives. It’s one thing to talk about the darker side, but it’s another to actually live in it, as in being the wife on her knees praying for her husband to wake up.
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