What some guys play with makes you hurt.
Even as a broadcaster, an entire football season can be grueling. I looked back at the last three years and could not believe how many Saturdays between September and January were spent on North Dakota State University football. 15 games in 2011, 15 more in 2012 and add 15 on top of that in 2013 and you can see, that’s a lot of football to cover. As fans and even media members, some of us have spent more time in the fall with Marcus Williams, Brock Jensen or Billy Joe Bob the Bison fanatic, than our own spouses (It’s not our fault if they don’t want to tailgate, right?).
But hey, that’s us. We don’t have to practice and we don’t have to play, yet we have had the chance to enjoy the magic carpet ride to Frisco, Texas the past few years. The time that we put in is milliseconds compared to the time the players have put in.
The preparation begins long before fall camp. It actually started at this time last year. Players were already working out with NDSU strength and conditioning coordinator Jim Kramer, trying to get that third straight national title and become only the second team in FCS history to go undefeated.
Putting the time in is one thing, playing through pain is another. Several former and current players have told me that after the first game of the season, no one plays at 100 percent the rest of the year. You have to find a way to get through the season with soreness, bruises, bumps, tears, pulls and everything in between.
On Saturdays, we all show up expecting the Bison to steamroll opponents, but it’s not that simple. You can have all the talent in the world, but what’s more important is your toughness. To win 43 out of 45 games, good players still have to play at a high level every week. But would it surprise you that a lot of those playmakers that showed up and got the job done had significant injuries that made it difficult to perform? Would you even be able to tell who some of those guys were? Some of you certainly could, but for others, it would not be easy to see or even … forget.
Travis Beck played with a dislocated shoulder that was popping out like a spring all season, Grant Olson and Jeremy Gordon played with ACL tears, while Billy Turner and Marcus Williams played with broken hands. Even the kicker, Adam Keller, is nursing a bum hip. Close to a dozen others had torn labrums in their shoulders that all required surgery after the season (Cole Jirik actually had both shoulders repaired) and who knows for sure how many more ailments players were dealing with that they never made public or we never knew about.
When the team was honored at halftime of the NDSU men’s basketball game, players walked out on the court wearing slings, knee braces and casts. Finally, after playing weeks with injuries and battling through the rigors of the FCS playoffs, they finally had a chance to get fixed up, even if it is only for a couple of months until the shoulder pads go back on for spring drills.
Brian Shawn is the play-by-play announcer for the Bison football and basketball teams.