After two tours in Iraq, the echoes of war would crawl into his thoughts at night, refusing to let his mind ease. “Boredom punctuated with terror,” is what he calls it. He still remembers how bloody his fingers would get loading his ammunition during training, how the planes would shake as they touched down near enemy territory, the BOOM of a rogue RPG after it exploded just in front of the truck he was riding in, six miles outside Baghdad.
He remembers the fear he felt, in charge of a 12-man unit, worrying that he’d have to tell a wife that her husband wasn’t going to make it back home.
There’s a parallel he sees, something about the audacity it took to survive in his old world — one of the most demanding and exclusive branches of the U.S. military — and the one he finds himself in now. Brian Decker stood on the field of an NFL preseason game last August, marveling at what he had just seen: a safety sticking a ballcarrier in the open field. “Two guys traveling 20 miles an hour,” he says. “It sounds like a car crash.”
Then he thinks for a moment, and he spins his story full circle.
“Most people aren’t willing to turn it loose like that. I think it takes…