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Jason Kelce and Brandon Brooks shed light on the physical, mental toll of playing in NFL

With the news of Colts quarterback Andrew Luck retiring due to the physical and emotional toll of football, many other players around the league have voiced their sympathy with what he is going through. Center Jason Kelce is no stranger to injuries, going through rehab, and the other ailments that come along with playing this sport.

"It sucks, but it's definitely part of the game," Kelce said. "Pain in itself, is a pretty depressing thing. Having to go through that constantly is not fun. You are constantly weighing how much that is bringing you down versus all the other joys you get out of the game. I think anyone who plays football at this level or in general can understand."

During the 2018 season, the 31-year-old was on the injury report with a knee injury that left him questionable for the regular-season finale against Washington. He didn't miss a single game while participating in 95 percent of the offensive snaps.

"It's tough," Kelce said. "Last year was a grind for sure. There is always pain in this league. You try to get used to it and as you play longer you have more and more things that just add up."

While injuries can bring some players down, Kelce believes that desire to play is always there. His love for the game has not changed as a result of the injuries. Kelce feels ready for 2019 after a full summer of conditioning and getting proper treatment.

"I think I definitely have the fire," Kelce said. "I'm still the same guy I've always been. I love going out there and playing ball with the guys next to me. I love coming to work every single day. I'm very much looking forward to playing another year."

Pro Bowl guard Brandon Brooks can also relate to what Luck is experiencing. The Miami (Ohio) product understands the emotional toll this game can have on a person. Brooks had to miss two games with the Eagles in the 2016 season due to anxiety. Brooks has learned to manage it, but he can still empathize with those who are overwhelmed with the emotional side of football.

"Trying to battle through rehab while trying to play and be the player you want to be and you can't, is very frustrating," Brooks said. "Psychologically, it definitely wears on you because the second you get off the field you have to come in here to do extra."

Brooks is in the midst of overcoming an injury himself. He is almost completely recovered from the torn Achilles that he suffered during the NFC Divisional Round matchup versus the Saints. After months of hard work on and off the field, Brooks believes playing in Week 1 is still a realistic option.

"Thinking Week 1, but at the same time being smart as well," Brooks said. "If I'm physically not ready, then I'm not going to go out there and put myself in a bad position or put my teammates in a bad position. If I'm ready to go and I feel fine, then that's what I'll do."

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