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The student news site of Baldwin High School

The Purbalite

The student news site of Baldwin High School

The Purbalite

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Diamond in the Ruff
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A cruel NFL injury offers a lesson for living well

On the fourth play of his opening drive as a New York Jet, Aaron Rodgers tore his Achilles tendon. 

After a sack by Leonard Floyd of the Buffalo Bills, Rodgers returned to his feet. But after a few moments he lowered himself gently to the turf and sat there, evidently in pain. A trip to the blue tent signaled that he was out for at least a few minutes, likely the first half. Soon, he was ruled out for the game.

Today, he was ruled out for the season.

What does this mean? It signals the outright capriciousness that can contaminate football – or life, for that matter. 

In an article by CBS New York before the game on Monday, a Jets fan was quoted as saying, “This is the best I’ve ever felt as a Jets fan in my entire life. I’ve been a Jets fan for about 15 years. Never had an experience like this going into a season.” 

Now, that excitement is crushed. To add insult to injury, the Jets are the focal point of HBO’s Hard Knocks series – a name which is now ringing quite true. Rodgers’ injury highlights a tragedy of football, and sometimes of life: a randomness that ruins even the loftiest of dreams and highest of aspirations.

Even if the result is far beneath your expectation, the work you do – the hours you put in – still matter.

— Kevin Hutchinson

The Jets have, of late, been a team of woe. To quote the late Washington Nationals fan and syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer: “When you live in a town with a great team, you go to see them win. When you live in a town with a team that is passing rapidly through mediocrity on its way to contention … you go for the moments.”

With Rodgers in town, the Jets were certainly a team passing rapidly to contention. The hopes of a crushed fanbase were lifted, with the promise of a former MVP who could claim a playoff berth. But this was not to be. The football fates are fickle, and ask no permission for the strings they cut. A multimillion-dollar trade, and probably a million more in jersey sales, has come to this: a random tackle tearing a tendon.

And what does that mean for football? Greatness is just as much a matter of chance as it is skill and preparation. Who can say otherwise now? Success is not a product of pure effort if a random, blindsiding catastrophe can derail it all.

Hence sports betting. Predictions. Pregame analysis. What does any of it mean? On the field, under the lights, anything can happen. And I find this very concerning.

For if it can happen in football, who says it can’t in life? In fact, it often does. The random manifests itself, destroying weeks’, months’, and even years’ worth of preparation.

This raises an important question: how to react? Submission to nihilism – the belief that life has no meaning at all, that everything is by chance – is an option. But it’s a despairing one, and I think it untrue.

A better option is to accept that life is sometimes random and prepare for it anyway. If you got an honest reaction from Rodgers, I don’t think he would regret the Jets trade, or the hours he spent in training, or the two-a-days in August heat.

Why? Because those moments still had an impact. Each day in training camp, Rodgers still inspired others. He made his receivers and backup QBs better. The Jets have still benefited from his contributions, even if Game 1 didn’t go as planned.

When it comes to anything in life, then, I offer an imperative. Football is life, after all.

So here it is: despite the cruel capriciousness that sometimes appears in life, work anyway. Even if the result is far beneath your expectation, the work you do – the hours you put in – still matter. I don’t think that life is random at its core. Maybe every failure, or every season-ending injury, is not a curse but a disguised blessing. Maybe every failure is not a rejection, but a redirection.

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About the Contributor
Kevin Hutchinson
Kevin Hutchinson, Staff Writer
Senior Kevin Hutchinson is a third-year staff writer. He enjoys following politics, watching football, and spending time with his girlfriend. 
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