What comedians and NFL players have in common: They're madmen who have lost the ability to empathize

Football player Nate Jackson wrote a book about his time in the NFL. Here's an excerpt from "Slow Getting Up."

After morning practice we have a few hours to ourselves. I don’t like to fall asleep between practices. Instead I sit in the locker room and shoot the s— with Domonique Foxworth and Hamza Abdullah and Brandon Marshall. I’m learning to play acoustic guitar. I sit on the floor and strum the only three chords I know. If someone walks through the locker room we make up a song about him. It’s meant to humiliate and cut deeply, in the hopes of unearthing a crippling insecurity. The more distraught our victim, the more aggressively we laugh at him. The longer he stays, the worse it gets, until he finally realizes he is dealing with madmen who have lost the ability to empathize, and he scurries off. I’m not concerned about another man’s feelings. I don’t even have time for my own. This follows me off the field and out into the world, where people’s concerns seem weak and pointless. Pain is a choice.

I don’t realize it at the time, but the ability to relax and be an a—— between practices is a product of becoming a seasoned pro. My early years in the league were fraught with nervous tension. I was in no mood to joke around. How could I? I was on my deathbed. But as the years have gone by, conquering the daily struggle has become ingrained in my psyche.


Silly to compare the "pain" of comedians and football players but I thought it was interesting how much Jackson's description of an NFL locker room sounds like the stories of comedians sitting around the table at The Cellar. Or a roast. That search for the one thing that someone actually feels sensitive about so you can then mock 'em ceaselessly. The probe for weakness. And the ability to both give/take it as a sign of professionalism.

Vaguely related: Sarah Silverman Was Bummed About the Ageism at James Franco's Roast. Wait, people said offensive things at a roast!? "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!"

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