At the very core of football is a game that matches 22 men split evenly, most of which growing up playing the game for the rudimentary reasoning of it being fun.
Fast forward through college football and to the National Football League, it's amazing to see just how much some that are talented enough, will go through to play that very game. This thought is brought on after speaking with Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Torell Troup following the first practice.
After having a positive day during conditioning on Wednesday, Troup tightened up a bit during the team's first practice on Thursday and was extremely limited. That's just part of the painful process that comes with being only seven months removed from serious back surgery.
Rewind the clock to this time last year and you would have seen Troup making significant steps forward in his game during training camp. Then the injury bug hit the defensive tackle, and hit him hard.
"I was so well prepared for the season last year, then two freak injuries sidelined me," Troup said. "There was nothing I could really do about it, so now I feel like I have something to prove but the coaches tell me, 'Just be ready for the first game.' So it's kind of like I'm fighting my own demon here. I want to be full go, I want to do all this stuff but my body's telling me I can't right now, so it's kind of hard."
Going through that line of thinking is a mental game, and there isn't anything more humbling to a player than having to go through rehabbing an injury for a significant amount of time. That's where their mettle truly gets tested.
"I'm not gonna lie: [it's] very, very difficult. Some days waking up and not being able to get out of bed and you know, needing help to take showers, walk down stairs... it's crazy because I'm only 24-25 years old. I'm 25 now. You don't expect anything like that when you're 25 years old.
"Just to be able to fight through that and just to be where I'm at now -- to even be on the field is really a blessing because a lot of guys probably wouldn't have done what I did. I get praise from the trainers and praise from the weight coaches because of how much pain I go through and how much pain I'm willing to tolerate to play football. Because I love football, I love the Bills, I want to play, I want to help the team in any way possible. It's been hard."
And there it is, the very core of any professional football player exuded by Troup: competitiveness, passion and a love for the game.
Heading in to his third year, Troup says he's putting a lot of pressure on himself to get back and contribute to the team. But it's not up to him, the former UCF standout is at the mercy of his back and how far it will let him go.