Welcome to the Tuesday edition of The Cooler, where solidarity is key. Let’s get to it:
*A lot of current and former NFL players have applauded Colts QB Andrew Luck in his decision to retire a few weeks shy of his 30th birthday as a result of an accumulation of injuries — and the joy that has been sapped from him — endured in his career.
But perhaps the most interesting things I have read on the subject are from a pair of retired offensive linemen, both of whom detailed just what it feels like to be constantly injured and constantly rehabilitating those injuries, as Luck did.
The first is a series of tweets from Rich Ohrnberger, who played parts of five seasons with the Patriots, Cardinals and Chargers between 2009-14. Unlike Luck, who retired having already made close to $100 million, Ohrnberger’s career earnings (per Spotrac) are around $3.6 million.
He details chronic pain bad enough that he had to wake up at 4:30 a.m. and crawl to the bathtub at the start of his day just to be able to walk. He retired in 2015 to little fanfare.
Ohrnberger concludes: “Over the course of my career, I was drafted in the 4th round, went to a Super Bowl, played in a playoff game, snapped footballs to 2 Hall of Fame QBs, made lifelong friends, and lived a dream. but the trade off was significant. I’ve had both shoulders operated on, part of a clavicle bone removed, spent a season on IR due to a concussion, ruptured my MCL, and had back surgery. That’s the abbreviated list … Football is about dealing with pain. It’s unavoidable. … but it wears you down.”
Geoff Schwartz, who spent 2012 with the Vikings as part of a career that lasted from 2009-15 and netted him about $10 million, wrote a long piece on SB Nation in which he detailed his three offseasons spent rehabbing injuries and the toll they took:
That was just three years of rehab. Luck practically spent his entire career doing this. He’d fix one body part, and another would be broken. Imagine you’re fixing a car. The engine busts. It’s repaired, but then the belt breaks. Then the brakes go. Over and over. Thus, it’s no surprise his joy for the game, or more distinctly, his joy of the process of preparing, has faded. It’s human nature. Eventually, you are over it. Luck had enough and he’s courageous for calling it quits when he decided it was time.
*ESPN announced the lineup for this year’s “body issue” magazine, and a segment of Twitter was sent into starry-eyed happiness with the inclusion of Brewers MVP Christian Yelich. There was at least one naysayer, though … and Yelich addressed her personally.
*Deadspin has a good overview of baseball’s attendance problem, which includes one interesting idea that I hadn’t considered:
There is one complicating factor here that may be worth noting: MLB attendance took its first big step backwards in 2009, in the first full year of the recession, and has never recovered. There’s reason to believe that baseball might be more susceptible to an economy where falling real wages have seen most Americans have to work longer hours just to tread water. If you’re an NFL team with just eight games a year, or an NBA team with fewer tickets to sell per game, you can maybe rely on selling to one percenters and the occasional splurge from a non-wealthy family; with 81 home games a year and 40,000-plus capacities, MLB teams have to rely on repeat customers without trust funds, and those are increasingly tough to come by in the modern economy.
As the piece lays out, it’s more complicated than a simple issue. But it is worth pondering whether baseball’s attendance decrease is less about the sport itself and more about its customers.
*Wolves rookie Naz Reid had his 20th birthday on Monday, and Karl-Anthony Towns brought him a piece of cake.
*Don’t set up your live shot next to the sprinklers. That’s a good lesson for this Tuesday.