Fighting Spirit

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After the 10-play 80-yard drive gave the Steelers a 7-0 lead against the Ravens, i watched intently from the sidelines as Flozell Adams lurched, jerked, shuddered and barely made his way to the bench area.

Great googly-moogly i thought, The Hotel must’a caught one to the gourd and he’s in la-la land. Watching the Steelers pit-crew of doctors and trainers descend on Adams as he sat on the bench began to confirm my suspicions of noggin trauma. Yet there was big Flo playing the whole first half under conditions i hadn’t yet begun to understand.

Halftime comes and goes. Big Flo is nowhere to be seen. I had wrongly assumed that Flozell had been noggin-ized and would not return to the action.

As i was hanging out on the sidelines, minding my own business i might add, i saw Steelers OT Jonathan Scott sink to the ground after a play, and he didn’t look like he was going to get to his feet any time soon.

Since Trai Essex had taken over at tackle for what i now know to be “Flu-zell” Adams, i realized crunching the numbers that there was about to be a shortage of tackles.

Suddenly a massive frame moved by me as Flozell Adams came out from the locker room where i assumed he had already donned his civvies and gone home due to a horrible case of the flu whacking the legs out from under him. Silly me.

I had underestimated Flozell. Coming into the season i knew Flo’s rep. Tough, nasty guy, took no prisoners and would punch you just as easily as shake your hand. In other words, my kind’a guy.

But what i didn’t know was just what a tough hombre this guy was. Tough guys get hurt too. And i’ve seen my share of tough guys belly up when it comes to playing hurt. Not Flozell Adams.

I’ve watched this young man (remember i’m 52 and age is a matter of perspective) cowboy-up all season long battle with switching sides from left to right, heat issues, ankle sprains and now the flu. 

As Big Flo staggered by me, i saw Mike Tomlin and Sean Kugler immediately swing into action. They literally had to pull Flo off the field. Flo, out of his mind in the throes of fludom, really was going to attempt go back in and get it done because his guys needed him.

After getting Flo back to sidelines, Flo unsteadily stood there for awhile, as if in a moment the coaches might change their minds and he might be called upon to take the field. Antwaan Randle El came alongside Flo, who at this point was so shaky that he actually leaned on Antwaan’s shoulder to steady himself.

Eventually they caped the crusading Flo and got him to sit on the bench, where fortunately he was able to park it for the rest of the game.

Why do i share this story? Because so many people don’t see the behind the scenes stories. They don’t see the anguish and angst players go through week in and week out. And they don’t appreciate the suffering players will go through when they are “under the weather.”

Flozell was ready, willing, though due to better thought processes by non-flued out folks, not able to go. The warhorse looking to re-engage in the battle. Egad, you can’t have a pulse and not appreciate the fighting spirit of the man Flozell Adams.

Offensive lineman don’t get the stats, nor are they reveled for their route running. Their toughness is what separates them from the pack. This is what their peers judge them on.

I’m not much of a peer anymore, but i truly appreciate the effort Flozell Adams gave Saturday night against the Ravens. He didn’t just give his best, he gave his all.

Right down to the vomit he left on the sidelines.

I sure hope Antwaan got his flu shots.