For The Associated Press
ALPINE, Texas (AP) -OK, folks. This is it. This is really and truly game week for me.
Coach Steve Wright and I talked Monday and there are no doubts: I am going to be on several special team units Saturday night against Texas Lutheran.
Skeptics might say they'll believe it when they see it considering all the false starts my comeback has had. Well, if you are tired of being teased, imagine how I feel. The five games I've waited out has been as tough as the 37 years I spent regretting having missed my senior season.
Being so close to playing makes everything exciting again. My body is in the best shape since I put the pads back on, and coach is ready to see what I can do. He told me so Monday when we set out a game plan for the rest of the season.
Coach wants me to do what I can in practice at what I feel like is an acceptable risk to my body. He doesn't want me going 100 mph in practice then not being able to play Saturday. I really appreciate that.
Playing in games is what I came here to do. It's why anyone comes to a Division III school and pays their own way. It's not to stand on the sidelines and cheerlead. That goes for me or anyone else.
I'm still practicing at linebacker and expect to eventually see some time there. It's extremely important to me to do that, so I can rotate in and out and give my teammates a rest.
My focus right now is special teams. My role is in those high-impact areas, either knocking somebody down when we're receiving a punt or kickoff or making the tackle when we're kicking.
I really enjoyed being on special teams my last time around. I was one of the few people who did. I always liked the contact. For me to have an opportunity to run that hard and tattoo somebody was something I looked forward to doing.
Now, there are probably a lot of 19- or 20-year-olds out there who are thinking, ``I'm fixin' to knock that old man on his keister.'' They are certainly going to be looking to take their shots at me. I probably would do the same thing if I was in their place, so it doesn't bother me.
I get asked a lot what it's like knocking around kids half - no, one-third - my age. It usually comes from people who knew me back when I was a headhunter. Truth is, I really haven't had the opportunity to do it yet. Practice is one thing, but to a degree it is controlled. Game speed is totally wide open.
Once I go in, I won't even be thinking about getting injured. I have to go at full speed or I don't need to be out there.
Saturday night is going to be special for me and my family. Our home crowd certainly will be fired up, and I believe me being out there will energize our whole team.
It says in the Bible the dream comes through much effort. I knew that my dream of playing football again was going to require a lot of work. Having never been hurt before, I wasn't expecting all the injuries.
The aches and pains have been frustrating, as has being on the sidelines the last three weeks. Suiting up for those games, I still had butterflies and all the normal feelings you go through as a player.
This week, I think it'll be different. I know it'll be different.

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