It’s amazing what Las Vegas can offer. It can offer so many more things that other cities can’t. It is one of the few places you can get away for a weekend to completely let loose and return to your regular 9-5 job come Monday morning. It is a quick getaway for some, while for others proudly call it home. On my most recent trip to Sin City I came across knowledge few fans have yet to find out about, things a lot of people don’t even want to discuss. I’m not going to get into some of the hardcore fun some athletes get into (like Michael Irvin doing some cocaine) but i will get discuss the fact that athletes are warriors, animals and this generations gladiators, yet they act just like everyone else except the spotlight is directly on them at all times.
On my most recent trip to Las Vegas I sat down at the poker table at the MGM Grand to play a game of $1/$2 No Limit Hold ’em. I never spotted another famous athlete there partly because the NBA and NHL seasons were on going and it was the first round of the NFL playoffs. However I did start talking to some of the people there while raking the chips into my corner. A mother/daughter who were pretty good card players knew every dealers name and knew a couple of players at the table. This tipped me off to realize that I should stay away from those players and that this mother/daughter combo had been to the MGM far too many times.
So we start talking and I find out they are from Chicago and come to the MGM Grand a couple of times a year. they don’t go to any other hotel. After beating them at a hand I told them I was from the Niagara region and we started talking football. It came out that I am a pretty big Buffalo Bills fan after they were complaining about Jay Cutler. “At least you have a quarterback,” I said back to them. They then go off on a tangent about a famous running back in Fred Jackson happens to frequently visit the MGM Grand. He comes with his family to unwind and relax. To do that he picks a spot in a simple $1/$2 or $5/$10 No Limit game right at the MGM Grand. Definitely nothing wrong with it, but it was funny because she said some people recognized him but didn’t bother him. They knew he was there for leisure and they left him alone. It was his way of unwinding, but he did it ever so slyly by just keeping to himself at a poker table with his Bills hat pulled over his eyes. Even being a secondary running back from the desolate area of Buffalo, players are recognized even if they don’t want to be.
In another Las Vegas related story, 2 weeks ago I had the opportunity to go once again with my friends but I passed on the offer. It’s always a mistake when you pass on Vegas but oh well. My friends ended up at the Tao Nightclub in the Venetian. A very nice club to spend a Saturday night and it makes it even better when you spend it with a fun loving athlete. They happened to run into a recently signed Bills tight end Tony Moeaki. No big deal right? Well not only do they run into him but they convinced him to join them in their VIP bottle serviced booth. Moeaki didn’t spend the entire night with them, he just joined them for one drink but it was a drink my friends will always remember, and they will of course shove in my face the fact I could of been there for the rest of my life. Moeaki was there with some friends just unwinding and taking some time before he has to get into shape before the following season.
The reason I bring up these two stories from Vegas is two fold. For starters it is a city I love and I have been there numerous times but these events seem to happen when I go there or at least should be there. The other is because we sometimes forget these players are human just like the rest of us. These athletes take punishment for the pride of the game and for our enjoyment. As fans we forget that football is their job and although it is just a game to us it tends to leave players physically damaged for the rest of their lives. These players dedicate an enormous amount of time to get there bodies in shape, to learn playbooks and perform on a level that doesn’t lead to fans chasing them out of town. They need a break every once in a while just like you and I need an occasional break from our jobs. Although I wish I was able to get as much vacation time as these players get but such is life, at least every little thing I do wrong isn’t dragged through the media and making headlines around the world.
Yes we all care about football but when it comes down to it there is just so much more than football. There is family, there is vacation, there is church, there is the little enjoyments which make life bearable. Yes it sucks the Bills lost. Yes it sucks it didn’t look like they put their full effort on the field. Yes it sucks the team hasn’t made the playoffs in 14 years. Guess what? They care. This is a very competitive game but just because you lose a game (or 10) you still have to prepare yourself for the next. You cant lose sleep over it because you still have to keep moving forward.
Even if you screw up at work something terrible come Monday morning remember you can always use that mistake to learn and become a better employee. There is always tomorrow, as long as you use your mistakes to become a better person and perform better at your job you are going to be just fine in this world. If a player makes a mistake the last thing we as fans should do is criticize and get down right nasty about it. We are men, and we are learning so lets try to keep that in mind when Stevie Johnson and Scott Chandler fumble the ball on identical back to back plays and our team loses as a result.
I still want the Bills to win today but as long as they continue to learn from their mistakes like the seem to have done last season we are going to just fine in the long run.