Days Four and Five: Wherein I Play Blackjack and Get Sneezed On

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Monday Tuesday Wednesday

Thursday and Friday: Yesterday was my last day of work for the week. Typically I would never get Friday off, but my progress has been superb, my body has found its health, and my trainer knows this. My trainer also knows that Santa is watching him, and in a pathetic attempt to win brownie points with Father Christmas, he gave me today off. He's so transparent.

So I did what any man in my position would do, I came to Las Vegas. Nothing exemplifies the holiday spirit quite like single deck blackjack at the Circus Circus. In fact, the cocktail waitresses are dressed like Mrs. Claus. No, that is Mrs. Claus, and there is her sister. Perhaps these are seasonal waitresses, character actors if you will, but that doesn't explain the missing teeth. Good thing they have eggnog here.

I actually came to Las Vegas because my lovely girlfriend lives here. Disappointing, I know. I haven't been to Circus Circus since I was in middle school. I won a stuffed giraffe and some old man sneezed on my hand. I ain't going back there no matter how good their eggnog is.

This is how a week in the life of an injured NFL athlete differs from that of a healthy one: I have the time to sit around and think about when I got sneezed on. I have the time to travel to Las Vegas. Tomorrow, I am going back to California to spend Christmas with my family. All of these things I am able to do only because I have become an unimportant piece in the puzzle of Right Now that is the NFL. My teammates are practicing today, as they will tomorrow, and on Christmas Eve, when Americans remember why they love home, my teammates will be the entertainment.

To the watching world, they are strange grunting men, running around on television. To a small few, however, they are sons, brothers and fathers that will not be home for dinner on Christmas Eve. We all make sacrifices I suppose. In the NFL, this is one of the big ones. It sucks, but it is a sacrifice that I have made and will make again.

It is, after all, the season for sacrifice. No matter where you are during this holiday season, whether it's on a football field or in a smoky casino, be the kindness you wish to see in those around you. Embody the love. And if you see someone in need and Santa Claus is nowhere in sight, extend the hand of hope in their direction. Just hope they don't sneeze on it. -- Nate Jackson

Nate Jackson, when not on injured reserve, is a tight end with the Denver Broncos. Tune back in all this week as he sheds some light on what a week in the life of an NFL player is like.

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