It came as no surprise to Miami Dolphins fans when tight end Jordan Cameron announced his retirement this past week. Cameron spent most of his time on Miami on the shelf with injuries and never lived up to the hype of being a Pro Bowler while with the Cleveland Browns.
But what did perk up the news cycle were his comments that most NFL players don’t enjoy playing football.
“I don't think a lot of these guys love football, to be honest,” said Cameron in an interview with ESPN. “A lot of them don't. You play for other reasons, and every guy has their own reason. They know why, and as long as your why is really important, you keep playing without really loving football. Because really, who loves to get hit in 10-degree weather by a 280-pound person? Really, no one likes that.”
Cameron is only 28 years old, but has suffered at least four concussions in his six NFL seasons, and admits that the thought of those concussions, and the increased possibility of suffering another one, affected the way he played. He admits that he played more timidly on the field because of that fear.
“You're playing physical and you're playing an intense, violent game,” he said. “You have to gear yourself up for that, but it's hard to gear yourself up if you're thinking about getting hit or what the implications might be.”
And while he does concede that some players do love the game, and he himself did appreciate what football had given him in his life and that he would miss the camaraderie and friendships in the locker room, he thinks there are many more that don’t.
“There's a few guys that love it,” Cameron said. “Ray Lewis loves football. Peyton Manning. They love it. But a lot of guys don't really love this game, and there are players that will read this who will understand exactly what I'm talking about.”
I’m sure some NFL teams would like to know who those players are as well. At a time of the NFL offseason when a lot of rookies are being evaluated and interviewed as the NFL draft approaches, one question almost all of them get asked is, “Do you love football?”
And that’s a valid question, considering the investment teams make in their players. None would want to know that a player is only in it for the monetary reward. Yes, playing football in the NFL makes a lot of young men very wealthy, but history has shown that the players who love the game, those who give it their all, tend to have the greatest success. As with any job, talent can only take you so far - passion for doing what you do is the difference between those plodding along and those who win at the rat race we call a career (nepotism aside, of course).
Having made about $20 million in his career, Cameron has about 20 million reasons to appreciate the career that he’s so begrudgingly had to tolerate. And while he won’t be hard-pressed or in a hurry to find his next career, let’s hope that if and when that happens, it’s something he actually enjoys.
This story was written by Eldon Jenson. Follow him on Twitter @EJFootball
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