I'm a native Texan and very proud of it. High school football is a very big deal out there.
Especially in small towns as there's not much to do. I worked out very hard and became big, fast and strong. I played free safety and I was a very nasty hitter, Not dirty, you understand, but if a receiver caught a ball near me BOOM ! LIGHTS OUT ! There was a very great player whom I was friends with. I made the varsity as a sophomore, which back then was unusual. Anyway, this friend of mine was in the air catch a pass and I hit him with everything I had. He came down the wrong way and was paralyzed from the waist down. Boy it crushed me. Imaging you're 15, you just cripple a first team high school All American and knocked him out of a full ride to either Notre Dame or UCLA. He underwent experimental surgery in the USSR and can now walk. He forgave me and never blamed me. He said it was a clean hit, which it was, That's been almost 50 years and I still agonize over it. I didn't want to play anymore and frankly, I was never as good after this. How do I free myself of this burden?
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Wow--that would be something I would lose sleep over, for sure. I grew up in West Texas and lived that 'Friday Night Lights' lifestyle you speak of. I think those risks (getting injured) come with the territory, and you should not feel guilty. Especially since he never blamed you. I am so sorry that happened to you, though.
If it helps any, what you posted made me feel better about what I was going to say. I'm not even going to post it now, because it pales in comparison.0