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|Battle Creek Crunch teammates play like pros on the turf.|
• Kluck: Making the cut
• Kluck: Prepping for Draftmas
|Ted Kluck is living a dream, even if it's only for a short game.|
|Signing autographs is just part of the job.|
On the field, Chris Gillette and I chat about how you really "can't go back." When he's not trying to punish opposing quarterbacks, Gillette is a 290-pound confectioner who owns and operates his own chocolate shop in Battle Creek. In our high school football memories, the stands were always full -- we always played great, looked great in our uniforms, and the team always won. That's the forgiving thing about memories and years that pass. To trifle with those things, in the interest of curiosity or just ego is feeling more and more like a bad idea. But as I look around -- at Gillette, who tore his rotator cuff (a painful shoulder injury) making a tackle during this game, Parker, Lonsway, Brian Dolph, Harry Pettaway and the other guys -- I realize what a privilege it was to battle with them and watch them play through pain in pursuit of their dreams. Many of them have to get up early Saturday morning for their normal day jobs. Some of the guys, stung by the loss, showered and left quickly, but most of us hung around in our uniforms until the last of the fans left the field -- cognizant of the fact that this won't last forever. After the game, I thought about the bad snaps on the way home and for another couple of sleepless hours. The thoughts probably will ruin the potentially good interactions I could have with my family, who care very little about the team's defeat. And the next day, I'll go back to practice and relive the agony by watching the films, then try to win my job back -- because that's what a professional would do. Because for the first time in 30 years, after watching professional teams run out of tunnels, warm up under bright lights and sign autographs, I am one of them.
Ted Kluck will chronicle his professional football experience in a forthcoming book. His first book, "Facing Tyson," will be released in the fall by the Lyons Press. Sound off to Page 2 here.