For every Peyton, Brady, or Brees, there are a hundred NFL hopefuls who don’t dream of stardom. They just want a job. They show up at training camp, work their asses off, and pray not to get cut. For these anonymous guys on the NFL bubble, every hard knock, every missed tackle, is compounded by the psychic burden of living each practice in limbo. This is the story of three bubble players—a quarterback, a receiver, and a kicker—and their now-or-never gridiron dreams.
The most terrifying defender in the NFL is only in his second year—so it’s surprising to learn pro football wasn’t always in the bag.
Let’s begin with the greatest fourth-quarter comeback in NFL playoff history, the one that was and then wasn’t. January 13, 2013. The Seattle Seahawks are down 27–7 to the Atlanta Falcons, and the team’s rookie- phenom quarterback, Russell Wilson—wily extender of plays, leader of taller, heavier men—is bringing the Hawks back, one dazzling, improbable touchdown at a time. Wilson is five feet ten and five-eighths inches, believes in God and winning; twenty-one straight points later, his team has the lead. Thirty-one seconds to go. And, well—you know the rest. Final score: Falcons 30, Seahawks 28. Unconfirmed reports out of the Northwest suggest that blood has been falling from the sky ever since.
So, Russ, how much time have you spent thinking about that loss?
"None," he says.
"As a competitor you just have to move on."
Read the full GQ+A with Russell Wilson at GQ.com.
When the legendary NFL linebacker retired for good in 2010, he seemed set for life: supremely wealthy, beloved across the league, a hero in his hometown of San Diego. Two years later, he was dead. On a lonely morning in a big empty house, Seau shot himself through the chest. It’s no longer a secret how much damage pro football can do to the men who play it, but never before had we witnessed it destroy a genuine superstar—not until Junior Seau. in this GQ special report, Seau’s friends and former teammates try to make sense of how a life so filled with triumph could go so wrong so fast.