It was the beginning of the 2nd quarter when I started saying, “Oh no…. he’s got to get off that knee.” By the half, I thought, “Surely they will put Cousins in.” Nope. I found myself wondering beyond all belief how they could let him stay in, sometimes very out loud, and at the television.
See, this RG3 kid has some serious heart. We saw it in the game against the Ravens. He will stand ’til he can’t stands no more, to loosely quote Popeye. In this recent game against the Seahawks, he was willing to go out there and give it everything in his being when the physical part of him was failing and finally gave out completely in one buckling collapse.
I understand now what I didn’t at first. The only way I could even begin to contemplate the actions of RG3 and the coaching staff, I had to try to put it in my own realm of understanding, then it started to come clear. RG3 said something that resonated with me. “There was no way I was coming out of the game.”
I understand the “warrior mentality”. In my musical life, I have performed under complete physical duress before, knowing I was only going to make myself worse, but unwilling to give into the notion that I couldn’t or wouldn’t do it. I have WILLED myself through what most people could not have. I have sung through the double sinus infections, bronchitis, an almost complete vocal loss, ear infections… and for what? Not to make myself worse, or out of selfishness, but because I had to. For my own spirit, I had to. It’s what I have trained to do, other people were relying on me. I HAD TO. I have never called out of a gig in my life for any reason. Not for illness, nor for deaths of loved ones. And I have to tell you, none of us do. We show up. We are in it together. We are a team, and we support each other through everything from illness to heartache… and we are happy to do it. There is more going on than just simply playing a few tunes. This is what makes us feel alive- it is our purpose. I’ve said it before, “Playing music is like going to war.” If that is true for us, I can only imagine that is what it is like for these football players. It is their lives- their war that they are more than willing to fight in every week of the season. Just like us, but with more running and tackling.
I remember once in the middle of a huge gig run, (we had like, 4 in a row after a full weekend.) I lost my voice almost completely and the doctor said rest it for 2 weeks. I told him I had 4 upcoming shows that weekend. I said, “I can’t NOT do it.” He said, “I really don’t recommend it, but if you HAVE to… don’t talk all week, if you have to speak, speak softly. Don’t whisper. Drink more water than you think you ever could and sleep as much as you can.” Of course I did. I did anything I had to do to sing. I still do.
Now if I had done serious damage that weekend of shows, it would have been on me. And I took full responsibility for my decision. Luckily the rest and the quiet payed off. Against the odds, I did it. If I had done damage, it wasn’t out of some selfish action, like RG3 is being accused of, it was out of dedication. Dedication that is blinding sometimes, but dedication nonetheless.
Trying to wrap my brain understand Shanahan’s decision to keep him in the game didn’t come easy, but I again draw from my own experience.
I was pregnant just last year. My regular day job was a physically taxing job. Standing all day, lots of lifting, lots of running here and there. It was my warrior mentality that kicked in there as well. I worked like a dog. During this time, I was also playing gigs up until my 8th month. But I didn’t call out once for not feeling well (even though I wasn’t). Around month 7, I did have a 3 days forced (and believe me, kicking and screaming forced) bed-rest due to a bout with cellulitis in my already swollen foot. It was everything in my power to just lay there, but I had to. It was a potentially dangerous situation. But I was back on my feet before I knew it and continued to work 2 days past my due date. My manager kept asking me, “Are you ok? Can you still do this?” “YES.” I would say. “I AM FINE.” There was nothing he could do but just believe me. He checked in with me every day, sometimes more than once. That’s all he could do. Check in with me and trust that I was in touch enough with myself to answer honestly. The doctors had to trust my self assessment and decision as well. Luckily, nothing went down at work. I didn’t go into labor or anything crazy. Had I gone into labor, would the company have chastised my manager for allowing me to be there? He did everything he could to ensure I was ok. Shanahan did the same with RG3, and if accounts are accurate, with the doctor as well. If he had limped around, all game, blew out his knee, but we won, we might be hearing a different tune. These players and coaches are damned either way, it seems. You are either weak for giving up, or a hero for championing through. Make up your minds.
So what’s the lesson here? The problem with the warrior mentality is that you don’t know how much is too much until it’s too late. I could easily be voiceless today with some of the things I’ve put myself through. I count myself lucky. RG3 wasn’t lucky this time. But he’s got some serious heart. I hope, as all the fans do, that his recovery is swift and effective, as opposed to what we are all bracing ourselves for.
Lastly, I wish that everyone would just stop with the speculation and the blaming. The rumor mill doesn’t do anyone any good. RG3 did what he had to do. He’s walking his path and he’ll take whatever comes his way with the same calm and positivity that has lead him to this point.
Lastly, here is my video/song/tribute to London Fletcher, another team leader who deserves major credit. Go Skins!