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Hardwick's Return

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Buck Melanoma, Aug 4, 2012.

  1. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    PARIS: Hardwick's return came with thought

    Veteran Chargers center Nick Hardwick re-signed with the team in the offseason after some soul-searching in the wake of the retirement of guard Kris Dielman, his best friend on the team. Associated Press file photo

    SAN DIEGO — Nick Hardwick looks left and misses his best friend.
    Hardwick looks toward home and can't miss one of the best things that has happened to his young family: his first child, Hudson.
    Hardwick looked into his future this offseason, contemplating whether it included the Chargers.
    It did, but only after some soul-searching.
    "You just have to be honest with yourself,'' said Hardwick, the team's Pro Bowl center. "Know where you are physically and know where you are as far as, ‘Am I improving? Am I still making strides?' If not, then it's time.''
    The clock stopped for Hardwick, and the Chargers' traveling party, when left guard Kris Dielman suffered a grand mal seizure on a team flight back from the East Coast last fall. Yet another concussion led to Dielman's health crisis and eventually to the retirement of Hardwick's No. 1 pal.
    Retiring was an option for Hardwick, too, before he re-signed for three seasons while declining free agency and a life without the NFL.
    But seeing Dielman in such distress left a mark.
    "It did,'' Hardwick said. "My best friend took a bit of a hit last year, so that was a little eye-opening, a little scary.''
    Especially for a man like Hardwick, who is a deep thinker and as cerebral as anyone wearing bolts. Hardwick loves being a football player, but playing football doesn't define him.
    His definition of quitting time, however, didn't mesh with how his body felt after eight seasons.
    "I still have good ball left in me and I'm excited to play, excited to keep working hard,'' he said. "I love practice more than anything; practice to me is the greatest thing. Until all that goes away, I'm going to ride it as long as I can.''
    That trek won't include Dielman, that rascal and All-Pro anchored to Hardwick's left hip.
    "It's hard,'' Hardwick said. "We'll be best friends forever, but he is certainly missed.''
    Hardwick sensed Dielman's absence more in the offseason than when he played last season's final 10 games without him.
    Those emotions Hardwick felt in seeing Dielman wheeled into an ambulance on the tarmac never flourished.
    "It was hard because it was during the season, and you just got to keep moving forward,'' Hardwick said. "You almost can't even acknowledge something like that happened. You have to be able to compartmentalize, and football is really good at forcing you do that.
    "You can't come home and be the same guy you were at work. You can't live your life like that. I can't be an animal at home; at home I'm a dad and a husband. So you gain that ability to compartmentalize your life.
    "You're able to turn things on and off, close doors and say, 'I don't want to look at that right now. I'm not even going to deal with that.' "
    Once the season ends, there's no ignoring it.
    "You put it in a box and put it in a closet,'' Hardwick said. "Then you open the closet at the end of the year when you have time to deal with it emotionally.''
    Once Hardwick collected his thoughts, he gathered the motivation for another run.
    "I'm having too much fun,'' he said. "This is a blast. It's a party.
    "Even in practice, you get a rush because you get to fight with another man. You can't fight people in the street, but that is what we do and it is damn fun.
    "That is what boys want to do is fight. But your parents break it up or the cops break it up. Here we just get to fight, and it's fun.''
    But it's fun with consequences, as the violent collisions this sport is built on prove time and again.
    Like that October night when Hardwick saw his big, strong buddy fighting to regain his senses. Dielman would never play again.
    "I felt really bad, really bad,'' Hardwick said. "Not that many people get to end it when they want to end it, so you feel bad for all those guys. But just with my best friend having to deal with that, it was pretty heavy.''
    So Hardwick embraced his football-free days as a respite, allowing them to provide the guidance he sought.
    "He's very thoughtful, both in the way he plays, and off the field,'' quarterback Philip Rivers said. "I think that's what offseasons are for — it gives you a time to regroup, get situated, and go back at it again."
    Hardwick is back, with his mountain-man beard and eagerness to reach the NFL summit.
    "This is the most fun you can legally have in the world, or at least in America,'' Hardwick said. "So I'm going to keep having a damn good time.''
  2. Ikeman83

    Ikeman83 Werter Pöbel

    Feb 3, 2012
    I love his attitude, and his drive. He'd have a HoF career if he could anchor better against large NTs.
  3. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    When you're usually outweighed by 20-50 lbs., that can be a tall order. Nick does alright. Not everyone can make it to the HoF.

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

    Jul 11, 2006
    Looks like he's in goose step!:eek:
  5. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Careful - next thing you know the Norv haters will be saying he's Hitler. :whistling:
  6. rickochey

    rickochey BoltTalker

    Nov 13, 2011


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