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NFL Veteran Recounts The Bruises And Breaks Of Life In The League

Nate Jackson played as a tight end for six seasons in the NFL. His writing has also appeared in <em>Slate</em>, <em>The New York Times </em>and <em>The Wall Street Journal</em>.
Tom Jackson
Courtesy of Harper
Nate Jackson played as a tight end for six seasons in the NFL. His writing has also appeared in Slate, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.
I shattered my pinkie, broke it in half. I broke a rib. I broke my tibia. I tore my left groin. I tore my right hamstring several times. I tore my MCL in my right knee ... I've had a couple of concussions and bone chips here and there.

Each week,Weekend Edition Sundayhost Rachel Martin brings listeners an unexpected side of the news by talking with someone personally affected by the stories making headlines.

Being a professional football player can be a brutal life. Nate Jackson spent six years in the NFL, mostly as a receiver with the Denver Broncos, and while he wasn't a star — or even a starter — he did carve out life in the rarefied air of professional sports, and he got just as banged up as any big-name player. But he learned to play through the pain.

Jackson recounts his playing days — from the glory of a touchdown pass to the meat grinder existence of life on the scrimmage line — in a new memoir, Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile. "The human mind is really good at pushing pain down and away when you feel that there is a moment of glory up ahead waiting for you," he tells Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin. "In football we are always pulled along by that next game, that next play, and so I learned how to get through the next play. No matter how much pain I was in I was able to turn it off ... there's a switch that I can locate and flip that switch and I don't feel any pain."

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