Like an all-night rager in the apartment upstairs or a crying infant on a red-eye, the Super Bowl is one of those ineluctable public occurrences that’s seemingly impossible to stop and difficult to ignore....more
I’m writing about three players who have all quit America’s most popular and visible sport mid-season. Their reasons for quitting are as different as their trajectories, but in each of them, there are shards of a much larger and tragic American story. ...more
When he retires at the end of the year, he’ll be remembered as one of the best tight ends in NFL history, and as a man whose heart, athletic skills, and bilingual outreach have made him a hero to Spanish-speaking football fans around the world. ...more
Being unable to play his favorite instrument anymore broke his heart, but while his injured hand couldn’t perform the delicate gesticulations of a violinist, it was not a hindrance in the blunt-force job of offensive lineman....more
If Hollywood could cast the Super Bowl teams, it wouldn’t choose most of the guys who make up the New England Patriots and the New York Giants. It also couldn’t invent the stories of how these people got here any better.
J. Ryan Stradal’s writing has also appeared in Hobart, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Rattling Wall, Joyland, Trop, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, The Nervous Breakdown, and NFL.com, among other places. His first novel, KITCHENS OF THE GREAT MIDWEST, will be published by Viking in July 2015. Find him, if you must, at JRYANSTRADAL.COM or @jryanstradal on Twitter.