As preparation continued for another week of the NFL season last week, I saw a quote from Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield that rubbed me the wrong way. I’m not sure what exactly he meant by it but it didn’t the attention it should have gotten and it became a joke on ESPN talk shows.
“Mamma didn’t raise a wuss.”
That’s all Mayfield said during his midweek presser as he explained why he was going to toughen out an injury and get back on the field. Because in Mayfield’s mind, it seems like being injured makes you “a wuss” and that is a serious problem in the world of sports today.
There is a big difference between being tough for your team and risking further injury because other people do not want you to show when you’re in pain. That can be even more dangerous at a high school level where there is even more worry about what others think about you.
Having a guy like Mayfield imply sitting out with an injury makes you “a wuss” can do damage to any of the young athletes that look up to players in the NFL.
For the most part, this has been taken care of with more medical resources on sidelines to determine when players are and are not fit to return. The strides taken with the concussion protocol has been a big step in the right direction but Mayfield’s comment doesn’t help.
Kids already have too much to deal with when they are injured so there should not be any extra pressure added by making them feel weak by missing time away from the field or court because of something out of their control. When an athlete is in pain, he or she should not be scared of acknowledging that pain and making sure it gets taken care of before risking anything worse.
While the physical tolls of sports are always going to be evident, I also saw another side of pain in sports when I was covering the AHSAA Super 7 Football Championships in Auburn.
Reeltown did not have the game they wanted to in the Class 2A title and Fyffe took advantage of it. Before the game reached halftime, it was clear the Rebels were going to come up short but that did not make things any easier when the final buzzer sounded on the season.
Players and coaches found it tough to hold back the emotions as their year ended short of the trophy. During the postgame press conference, Reeltown’s Eric Shaw said, “It just hurts” as he tried to hide the tears after his final high school game.
It was clear Shaw and his teammates were in pain but they also held each other up because of what they had gone through together. That team was one of the closest-knit teams I have ever seen at the high school level and it showed because the players did not have to hide that kind of pain from each other.
I probably am not the best to give advice to people on how to stay open about this whether it’s physical or mental pain but I do believe it is clear how acknowledging both of them are good for anyone including athletes. And it certainly doesn’t make you “a wuss.”