Wednesday, February 01, 2006

DAY TWO Iraq Super Bowl Diary




Traveling to Iraq
DAY #2

Christian Okoye, the Nigerian Nightmare, and I talk about how we are looking forward to meeting the soldiers and seeing how they deal with their day to day pressures. I wonder how close the character the great warriors in sport have to those who truly put it all on the line, anonymously, ten thousand miles from home, with no instant replay available. Do they visualize in vivid, rich detail ‘the game’ before it happens – is it at all similar to their own personal, life or death ‘Super Bowl in Iraq? I wonder if the soldiers in Iraq will say that witnessing a Jerome Bettis, Troy Palamalu or a Ben Rothlisberger, a Shaun Alexander, Matt Hasselback or a Lofa Tatupu come through in these big games comforts them as they get ready for their own confrontation with the unknown, and with the universal opponent, fear.
I was a kicker – with lots of time to think about how things might play out - about that moment of truth - how will I be in that moment? Can I see that game winning kick just like Adam Vanatieri - over and over again, can I see the leather so clearly that it all slows down, and I know I am meant to be there? Can I see myself reacting calmly if there is a time out, or an "ambush" to my own expectations of how things will play out in the game? Can I ‘turn it on’?
The soldiers we will be meeting must prepare for anything. The training we share is to be able to sense something about to happen – or at least to know how to react. Now that’s real courage: To see the dust, the noise, the insects, the streets, the civilians on the ‘battle field’, the children, to smell the wind – to come through when no script will ever match the game.

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