Warmup bliss in the NFL

I am 100 percent certain the best part of any NFL player’s week is warming up on the field during the game.

Pay attention next time you’re at an NFL game or watching one of the pregame shows when they show these guys warming up. They’re so happy. They’ve got their Beats on, they’re in the sweat pants, they’re going at approximately 31 percent effort. Not five minutes ago, I watched Houston Texans receiver Jacoby Jones dance on the field for a solid minute. They love it. 

It’s difficult to know exactly why, because I am not an NFL player. But here’s my theory: They are feeling the excitement of game day. Everybody loves game day. It is the reward for all the work. So that’s part of it. Another part is that during the warmup, there is nothing at stake. So they can wear the sweat pants and jog through their pass routes and throw lazy out passes. The point is only to loosen the muscles, so it is the only part of their week when they are not expected to be moving and thinking at 100 percent of their capacity. Also, the Beats. 

But I think the real key to it is deeper than that. Before the game begins, they are winners. That’s how high-level athletes see themselves. They believe they will win the game. They believe they will win their individual matchups. They believe this because, for the most part, their whole lives have gone this way. There aren’t many losers in the NFL. 

They KNOW they will succeed, because they know they are awesome. It is the one moment of their week when they do not have to confront reality. Monday and Tuesday are about recovering from Sunday. Wednesday through Saturday are about worrying about the opponent. Kickoff is when the reality that the other team is also full of winners sets in. 

The warmup is a break. It is willful, scheduled ignorance. It is bliss.

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