Life after sports

Torrey Brown

Tuesdays with Torrey

Any views or opinions expressed in “Tuesdays with Torrey” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Watershed Voice staff or its board of directors.

Fourth down and goal, two seconds left on the clock, coach gives you the ball and you break into the end zone for the score. Fourth quarter, three seconds left, your team is down by one, and your coach draws up a play for you, and you make the winning basket. Bottom of the ninth, two outs, and your team is down by a run with a man on base, and you hit a home run to win the game. 

These are all scenarios that every athlete has dreamt of, and some have had the pleasure of feeling the euphoria that goes with it. But even for the greats it all comes to an end at some point. To be a college or high school athlete, you have to deal with this realization a lot sooner than you would like. Hanging up the cleats for the last time is a feeling that will last with you forever. For me it was different, it came by surprise after my redshirt sophomore year playing college football, Wednesday, March 11, 1998. I remember it like it was yesterday. I walked into the doctor’s office to get a second opinion on a nagging injury that stuck with me through the second half of the season. After the x-rays came back, I was told that if I continued to play the game of football, I would be in a wheelchair in five years. 

That was it. I was done. 

The game that I had given everything to had just taken everything from me. Now what? Depression sets in, I feel like I’m nothing. My worth was tied into my athletic abilities, right? I was a shoe-in to play in the NFL. How am I going to buy that house for my mom now? For people who have never laced them up and gave everything that they had, this part is difficult to grasp. 

See, when your mindset is NFL or bust and your dream is destroyed there is no fall back plan. You have to scrape yourself up off of the ground and make something of yourself. First thing that I had to do was accept the fact that I was suffering from depression before deciding I could move forward. This took me three long, hard years of moving back in with my parents and trying to make myself believe that I was more than just a great athlete. Recognizing I had other talents I could use to provide for myself and those that I love. 

Next, I moved halfway across the country so I would have to stand on my own two feet and be something. All of those years of sprints, two-a-days, and practices taught me one thing that will also stick with me for the rest of my life; as long as there is time on the clock, as long as I have air in my lungs, I will not give up. You go to the last second. Play through the whistle. 

And because of this mindset, I am still here. I am stronger than ever. For me, my family is my new sport. Being a great husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and cousin is my role on this team. And I play for the best team in the world.