I had the honor of working for the United States Army for seven years. I know true warriors; I watched men and women leave their families for 12-18 months at a time, to go to far off lands to fight and protect.
And, I have been with families as they buried their warriors.
How many time have we hear coaches, players and analysts talk about football players’ “warrior mentality?” Sure, they're tough guys on the field, but they are also pampered and fawned over off the field. These athletes live in the lap of luxury, while our real warriors – our military – live in small on-base houses with sometimes barely enough money to adequately care for their families. I know soldiers who have deployed three, four, five times, whose families are on WIC because their salaries aren’t enough to sufficiently feed their family. Yet, the football players are the heroes.
Simply, one cannot compare the "warrior mentality" of a football player to a soldier
because there is no comparison.
Our soldiers willingly put their lives on the line to protect
our ideals and our freedom. Football players put their bodies on the line for a
game. Both are mentally and physically grueling; but one does it for honor and
duty; the other does it for fun and money.
Basic pay for a soldier averages somewhere around $40,000 a year. Basic pay for an Army private is just under $18,000, while a general (of which there are very few) makes into the
low six figures. In the NFL, league minimum for a rookie is $405,000 a year, while the
minimum for a player with 10 years’ experience is right around $1 million. That is
the minimum – the average salary of an NFL quarterback is $3.4 million, the average
for a wide receiver and linebacker is $1.8 million, and kickers and punters average
$1.6 million – KICKERS AND PUNTERS!
Now, go up to a soldier, who has been away from his family for
five of the last ten years, and seen his buddies killed and maimed, that the millionaire is a warrior.
I know soldiers’ wives who gave birth to their children
alone, and had to go through those first sleepless months by themselves;
fathers and mothers who had to leave their babies, and come home to children
who don’t even remember them; I have seen the pain on the faces of families whose
warriors are never coming home.
I have watched planes
full of soldiers take off to Iraq and Afghanistan, knowing that not everyone on
that flight will come home. I have watched the families of deployed
soldiers struggle to make it through everyday life while the most important
person in their lives is living in a dangerous place, where people want them
dead. I have also been lucky enough to witness the joy of families reunited, of fathers seeing their baby – who could be nine months old – for the first time.
These men and women are warriors. They put their duty and their country before all else. They put their lives in danger so that we don't have to. They are willing to die to protect our freedom.
Football players are talented, physically-gifted freaks who
are paid incredibly well because they are part of a product that produces
billions of dollars in revenue each year. But they are not warriors.