"A Passion Unleashed"
- "A Passion Unleashed"
For the first time in my life, I have true passion.
That may seem odd to people who followed my career
with the Denver Broncos and who saw the enthusiasm
with which I played the game. I enjoyed football, but
it never defined me. It wasn't my passion in life.
Coaches at every level since junior high attempted to
push me to be more aggressive and reckless on the
field. They wanted me to spend more time with other
players, talk more football, study more film and make
other aspects of my life secondary to the pursuit of
I could never do it. Of course, I liked the sport a
lot, and I was good enough at it to get a full
scholarship to college. Later, I performed well enough
to make it into the NFL. But still I rarely was social
with my teammates; I studied just enough film to know
my assignments, but not a minute more; and I never had
the type of win-at-all-costs instinct of someone like
Ultimately, my lack of true passion for the game very
likely was the reason my career lasted six years
rather than 10.
The same can be said of everything else I'd done in my
life, including writing columns and books, hosting a
radio show, working on television, delivering speeches
and participating in charity events. I've enjoyed all
of these things, but I've never felt a burning passion
about a job.
In the same way that young men and women rushed to
military recruiters' offices after Sept. 11, I've felt
compelled to use my column, radio show and speaking
engagements to defend the U.S. Constitution.
My passion has been sparked by furious, nationalistic
flag-waving; the detention of Arab nationals; the
passing of the misnamed USA Patriot Act; the
government's decision to listen in on attorney-client
conversations; the president's executive orders to
create military tribunals; and his later order to
ensure that presidential documents could be sealed
from public view forever.
These are all direct threats far more devastating than
anything terrorists could do. The commitment we have
to our Constitution is very much like that of a
marriage. Outside forces might be able to burn down
your home, destroy your car or kill family members,
but only you and your spouse can initiate a divorce.
Terrorists have no power to attack the Constitution;
that assault can be mounted only by the government,
and it's happening.
In response to my defense of the Constitution, I've
been bombarded with voice messages, letters and e-mail
telling me that I'm a fool; I don't know what I'm
talking about; I'm in over my head; and I should leave
the important stuff to the big boys. I've been called
a traitor, accused of sedition and urged to move to
I don't argue with much of that. I am a fool. I am in
over my head. These topics might be better left to
people with more knowledge than me. But one thing I
understand is that in times of great danger, every
American should get in over his head and defend the
document that makes us unique.
While other people were buying American flags to put
on their car antennas, I purchased copies of the U.S.
Constitution - 500 of them.
Our government is a powerful, aggressive dog, with
great speed, sharp teeth and an incredible bite. The
Constitution is a leash. He's not the type of dog that
can be trusted off the leash. He'll run away. He'll
sneak into other people's yards. He'll bite. We have
control of that dog only while he's on the leash. If
you'd like a copy of the leash, send me an e-mail.
I'll be happy to give you one.
Former Denver Broncos player Reggie Rivers
(reggierivers@...) writes Thursdays on
the op-ed page and is a host on KHOW Radio (630 AM,
weekdays from 3 to 7 p.m.).
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