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Coming home, playing on

After a tour of duty, college sports should seem like child's play. But to many veterans, joining a team is the start of a new challenge.

Updated: September 11, 2011, 10:05 AM ET
By Tim Keown | ESPN The Magazine

This story appears in the Sept. 19 issue of ESPN The Magazine.

THE ESSENCE OF TEAM SPORTS is the cause. Believing in it, committing to it, enlisting others to join it. Whatever else sports is, the cause represents the connective tissue between the athletes and the experience. Success is determined not only by talent but by a collective belief that the cause is worthy of the sacrifice.

So imagine the scene in a defensive huddle during the final minutes of a ...

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