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I remember being in the youth football program back in Doddridge County, West Virginia. The first time I put on the uniform with the helmet and pads, I felt invincible. To prove my theory of invincibility, I would ride my bicycle down a steep hill with my uniform on, and then just jump off the bike and roll down the hill. I’d get up, dust myself off and do it again, because I was … invincible. A few years later, as an underclassman in a high school varsity football game, I was jogging down the field on a kickoff, looking the action on the other side of the field, far away from me, when a player from the other team hit me like a hammer. That kid was determined to hit somebody, and hit them hard, and I became the unfortunate target of his nefarious intentions. It felt like I was hit by a freight-train, and those pads didn’t really do much to stop the bell from ringing in my head.

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