John F. Russell: Sharing in Jay’s struggle
June 22, 2008
Steamboat Springs — When I was younger, I used to dream of what it would be like to be a quarterback in the National Football League.
I imagined running away from defensive linemen like Kenny Stabler, throwing the ball with more precision than Joe Montana and leading players to a game-winning touchdown in the final seconds of a game, just like John Elway.
Today, I’m lucky if I can keep up with my 6-year-old daughter – who can nearly outrun me to a soccer ball – I’m more likely to throw out my back than throw a football, and the only drive I know about is the one from my home in Steamboat II to the place where I drop off my children for summer camp.
But I share at least one thing in common with Broncos quarterback Jay Cutler. We are both among the millions of Americans who deal with Type I diabetes. Every day we are forced to monitor our blood sugar levels, eat meals at specific times and rely on insulin injections or an insulin pump to keep us alive.
If we stay in good control, there is no reason we can’t live a normal and full life. But poor control of our blood sugar can result in blindness, heart disease and other life-threatening complications.
A few weeks ago, I heard an interview where Cutler told a reporter that he’s doing great. I’m happy for him, but dealing with the impacts of diabetes is not easy. I should know, because I’ve been dealing with those impacts for 37 years. I have learned that some days are better than others and that some things such as stress and the hectic pace of life are outside of my control, but can impact my sugar levels adversely.
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But this season, I will be cheering for Culter, and not just because I’m one of the thousands of out-of-control Broncos fans Denver is famous for producing. Truth is that the Broncos could trade the star quarterback to the New England Patriots or even the Oakland Raiders tomorrow, and I would still be cheering for him next season.
Culter already has proven that he’s a class act, and that’s not an easy task in a town where he must compete with the legend left behind by John Elway and meet the high expectations of this state’s rabid football fans. Denver is a town hungry for another Super Bowl run, and a town that is not happy with just getting to the playoffs. I’m not ready to say that Cutler has enough to return the Broncos to the glory years, but I’m ready to applaud his efforts.
In my eyes, he’s no longer just playing the game for the Denver Broncos organization or even for his million-plus dollar salary. He’s playing for all of us who have grown up, or will grow up, believing that they can do anything despite diabetes. Even play professional football.
– To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org