Namoff: Here’s to you, #26

It’s no surprise that Bryan Namoff suspending his playing career received no mention on the ESPN2 telecast of Thursday night’s DC United match against Seattle. The fans, however, remembered.

They held up “26” signs, representing his number, and there were other signs giving thanks to someone who wasn’t a star, but was certainly appreciated greatly, especially by fans and those who understand soccer.

Namoff wasn’t a flashy on-field player, but he was someone who had a good command of what was happening on the field, and had grown confident in his leadership abilities.

When Namoff was at the beginning of his professional career, I can remember interviewing him and barely getting a few words out of him, but he was never above his station. When many players would have – and did – refuse a trip to the lower levels of the USL to improve their game, Namoff embraced it, learning how to be a professional. Actually, by the act alone, he showed his professionalism.

In the last few years, Namoff grew comfortable in the spotlight, even as he didn’t seek it. He was a durable, dependable player who knew his role, and, for the most part, executed it with aplomb.

There won’t be a lot of stats on Namoff that will mean much in the grand scheme of things. 16,000 minutes. 195 games. Hardly ones that would stand out to most people in any sport. But those stats point out that he was dependable, if not flashy, and had earned the trust of his coaches and teammates, and the appreciation of fans, by his effort and heart. He did his job day-in and day-out and did it without complaint.  

United fans can only hope that he’ll be able to resume his playing career at some point. He’s still just 31. No doubt he’ll execute his new role with the team successfully, even as he’ll no doubt wish he was back on the field.

It’s the third United player in recent years who has had to suspend their career or retire – Josh Gros and Alecko Eskandarian (though he played with other teams, he’s still United to me) are the others. Like in other sports, concussions are nothing to play around with. They need to be taken as among the most serious injury one can suffer in sport. Unlike other injuries, concussions are the big unknown.

We can only hope that he’s not dealing with too many adverse symptoms as a result of the previous concussions, and we can only hope that they fully subside and he can resume a career, and more importantly, live a normal, pain-free life.

Here’s to you, #26. Best wishes. 

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