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NFL Mailbag and More With Carolina Panthers’ Geoff Schwartz

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Since I’ve had nothing better to do since my surgery last week, I thought I’d share some thoughts from the rehab table.
 
I will tell you the absolute best thing . . . well second best as my hip is feeling great… to come from my operation, I found DIRECTV’s RedZone channel. Wow, this channel is amazing! I looked at the NFL 1pm game schedule, and there were about 5 games I wanted to watch, but only one TV. The best solution . . . the RedZone channel. I relate the RedZone channel to how CBS used to work the NCAA basketball tournament. They showed bits and pieces of each game then, after the half, narrowed down to one or two games that were the best. Bit of a warning though to people new to the RZ channel. It can be hectic and confusing because it changes games so often, but once you get use to it, it makes NFL watching so much better.

My injury got me to thinking about how injuries are handled in the NFL and other pro sports. In general, athletes have a much higher pain tolerance than the general population. A player can play adequately enough though an injury. But at some point the injury worsens to the point where the player isn’t helping them self or the team by continuing to participate. Your resume is how you play on the field and the film produced. Playing injured might hinder your play, thus giving the viewer/ your coaches a false sense of your abilities.  

 
That being said, there are injuries you can play through, maybe at 75 percent, play effectively and help your team. It becomes a tough call for a player who is at that point because doing so could be bad for your career, particularly for players in their contract year. If you’re in the last year of a contract and facing free agency, you might be inclined to play through the injury but that approach could back fire big time if the injury prevents you from playing your best.
 
What if you’ve signed a big time contract and are comfortable with your status on the team? Well, one would think that it’s easy to shut it down when slightly injured. I have seen it be the opposite. Guys believe they owe it to the team and their teammates to play if they have a big deal. Guys feel like they are letting down everyone if they aren’t on the field. In the end, the decision to play injured or not is a very personal one. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to make any of these choices. I had to get my hip fixed.
 
Now on to the mailbag.
 
 
From Will Kelley . . .
 
What is life in the NFL like, especially for someone like yourself on IR? As you said, you’re not playing, practicing, or meeting with the team. Do you exist to your teammates, or are you invisible? Do you still talk to some of them? Do they try to avoid you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
 
Life is much different when you are on injuried reserve (IR). I’m use to a regimented day, every single minute of my day is typically scheduled while I’m on the roster. Get in early, typically before sun rise, treatment/hot tub, lift, meetings, walk-thru, etc… Now that I’m on injured reserve, I have a very different schedule. I’m not required to attend meetings and practices because I think I would be a distraction to the guys in an OL meeting. Yes, there are things I could probably learn during the meetings, but since guys on IR are not given a playbook it would be hard for me to contribute. My only daily obligation is rehab/treatment at the stadium, and that is done during meetings. I’m there anywhere between 1-3 hrs, get rehab, lift and go home.
           
The toughest part of being on IR is the fact that I’m basically invisible to my teammates. They hardly ever see me, and likewise I hardly ever see them. I come in during their meetings and I’m typically gone before they are out. I do still talk . . . phone, Facebook, Twitter . . . to them regularly, just not as much. This is the toughest part of being on injured reserve, missing the team camaraderie, the joking around and just trying to make each day as much fun as possible. The season is a long grind, especially when you don’t win, so you look to your teammates to lighten the load, to have a good time.  Having a good time doesn’t mean you aren’t focused on your task. You are. But when the time’s right, a joke and/or prank can certainly make life more fun.
 
From Ryan Welsh:
 
How about some insight into how hard it is to change conferences (Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Boise State and TCU next year) and have to prepare to face new teams instead of your traditional foes.
 
Excellent question. It won’t be as tough as one would think. Remember, every year non-conference games are played against teams never before faced.  The coaching staff might not know an opponent’s tendencies but the staff will overcome this. They will watch  plenty of film and talk to enough other coaches to  overcome the unfamiliarity. I think other things will be tougher, like not knowing the opponent stadiums. Is it a loud and hostile there? I think players need to be mentally ready to enter a hostile environment to not let it affect  their play. Not being familiar with the personnel is a small inconvenience. As a lineman, I always liked to know exactly where my guy was going to be, and what he was doing. That normally happens by playing someone more than once but watching film will help fill in the gaps.  One cool thing about changing conferences is being able to play some new teams, and in some historic stadiums. Nebraska gets to play in The Big House at Michigan and that will be a thrill for many of the players.   It was for me in 2007!
 
           
Didn’t get a name with this email and I won’t give out the email address but great question:
 
So how much of a hard time do you guys give one another over the college games?
 
College pride is a huge thing in the locker room. Everyone has a differing degree of pride and the more you talk, the prouder you become. Hard to believe, but I love to talk, talk about everything, including Oregon. So whenever we have a big game, I run my mouth. When we lose, I get hammered, like after the LSU game. I’d say every college game between competing alma maters, teammates are wagering something, and it’s not always money. One year I made a bet with a teammate and the loser had to wear a shirt with the winner’s face on it. I won, and he had to wear the shirt. It was awesome! We still wear each other’s shirts. Little things like that help keep the locker room lively and makes you want to come into work everyday.
 
From Twitter @Mozelkas
 
What’s your favorite meal to cook?
 
In case you don’t follow me on Twitter, I love to cook. I think I’m a pretty decent chef only because I need to find a way to feed myself something delicious without spending $100 somewhere. A typical meal out for my fiancé and me is about $50+. I just eat a bunch. So I actually make meals and then write them down in a cookbook on my computer. I probably have 25-30 meals saved but I do have one favorite. I’ve been making this meal since I was a kid. It’s a shrimp pasta and its super easy.
 
-5/6 Roma tomatoes
-Fresh Basil (use fresh, that’s the key)
-garlic
-lb of raw/uncooked shrimp
-whatever pasta floats your boat.
 
Olive Oil in hot pan, add as much garlic as you want. Cut tomatoes into inch cubes, and add to pan, turn down to medium. Let them cook for a bit, then add the fresh chopped basil. Now take a potato masher, and lightly mash the tomatoes. It makes a sauce. Add shrimp and cook until they are done. You can add some butter for extra taste. Pour over pasta. Here is a picture of the delicious meal:
 
(Editor’s note: Schwartz did not attach the photo. When he actually emails it to me, we will attach the photo.)
 
  
Two college football notes.
 
I was traveling on Saturday and missed most of the games. I miss the days where there were multiple out of conference, high ranking, non neutral site games weekly. Neutral site games just aren’t as fun for me to watch. I like seeing a big time program try to win in a hostile environment. Nowadays there is zero reward for making a trip to a tough venue so I don’t blame teams for not schedule these games.. I just miss it.What do you think?
 
Maryland uniforms- These uniforms created a big debate. I didn’t like them, not many people over 22 years old did either, but our opinions don’t matter. Maryland got exactly what they wanted, exposure. Uniforms that schools wear are solely created to attract the attention of recruits. I bet there are kids in Texas who hadn’t ever heard of Maryland who are now big fans of the school. So Maryland won more then just that game by wearing those hideous uniforms.
 
Lastly, I have been reading on OKTC about the hatred towards Cam Newton. Really? I have every reason to dislike the guy. He beat my Ducks in the national championship game. But guess what, I love the guy. For those who don’t know, he’s my teammate on the Panthers. From day one, he has come into the NFL and worked his ass off. He keeps his mouth shut, acts like a professional, is humble and most of all he is a winner, plain and simple, regardless of Sunday’s outcome. What he did on Sunday was amazing for a rookie QB. Not every game is going to be like that, the NFL doesn’t work that way. Maybe the people who hate him are jealous of his accomplishments or “hating” him is the only way to knock him down a peg after his great performance. But seriously people, give Cam his due for a great opening weekend.
 
Thanks to everyone who left me a question on my twitter, @GeoffSchwartz74, or emailed me at Geoff.Oktc@gmail.com. If you have any suggestions, or want to me watch a specific game and break it down, let me know. I’m open for anything.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.