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Jens Pulver Speech About Getting Old as an Athlete, from Driven

This is not about the Seahawks. I just want to get that out of the way right now. There, now you know. It's also Saturday evening during the off-season. Get off my back.

This is not about MMA either. I don't even know anything about UFC or Mixed Martial Arts other than the fact that they took martial arts and then they mixed them together or something, and then it killed boxing. Oh yeah, MMA, the thing that's killing boxing.

But I do love documentaries and apparently I've watched enough Biographical Documentaries for Netflix to suggest me a whole category of them! One of those was called Driven and I almost got a hetero-boner when I thought "Oh Ryan Gosling!" but this is Driven not Drive. It's about MMA fighter Jens Pulver, a person that I had never heard of until about two hours ago.

He is small, a former UFC champion in his division, and he's from Maple Valley, Washington. I actually learned more about MMA fighting in this one documentary than I probably did in my whole life that included one trip to a low-key MMA fight in Arizona and a couple of get-togethers for some big UFC fight in which I had heard of maybe two of the guys; the obvious ones. You know, Rampage and Chuck. That's about all I knew about MMA.

I still don't know that much. But again, this is not about MMA.

Pulver is also "old." At the time of this documentary, he was 35. That's not that old. But for an athlete, that's nearing retirement age. Pulver talks about that in the documentary and it's one of the more touching and astute observations on what that means for an athlete that I've ever heard. It's something to think about when a Walter Jones has to hang it up or one day, when a Matt Hasselbeck has to call it quits. This matters. It's sad.

According to Wikipedia, Jens is still fighting. Even two years after he said this, he can't give it up. That's how hard it is. He also just seems like an awesome person. He may have not been famous to me, but he's famous to millions of people. He doesn't take that for granted. He won't turn you down for a picture or an autograph. You can see that coming through in the documentary, and though it's anticlimactic, it's good. He says, "I'm not famous, I'm popular." I don't even know this guy and I am already a big fan.

I've transcribed his speech after the jump. Driven is available on Netflix Instant.

Spend every day training. College, high school, [inaudible- sounds like 'element'], 3 o'clock wrestling practice. Every day of my life. Three o'clock training. Since then, morning sessions. Afternoon sessions. I take my two weeks of breathing, then I gotta get back to training. But now all of a sudden what the f- are you gonna do to me when you tell me that I got nothing to train for? Other than just to train? I don't know if I can do that.

I always had a purpose. What do you fucking do? You're a competitor, [stumbles over words] all you know. You do and you're this young (flexes his muscles as he holds up his arms) Look at that. Bang! Most people are fuckin' old, skin, grey... I am done and I look like this.

I'm done and I can still push a car for half-a-mile if I wanted to. I'm done and I can bench, you know, 200- almost 260 pounds. Seriously? Most people are done when they're 65 years old, 70. They can barely put their fuckin' shoes on. Okay, now they're done. Now they need to relax and sit by the beach. Shit, like me... In our fuckin' prime. And we're DONE. How do you adjust to that? I ask anybody out there, how do you adjust to that?

(Begins to cry. Holds back tears as best as he can.)

And it isn't about- It isn't about the money. It's about " it's all you know." And you train for it. And you love it. And you got an internal clock that tells you, "Today you know you're gonna go out there, you're gonna run, you're gonna bust your ass, you're gonna listen to somebody and they're gonna tell you what to do and you know it, so you do it." You don't ask, you do it one hundred percent.

But I told- It's like I told my wife today, which is ironic, I'm sitting and I go "What do I do? How do I learn to figure this shit out? How do I learn to be a businessman? How do I learn to be an everyday individual? How do I learn that I'm training for no reason other than to just be in shape? How do I learn to enjoy what I'm doing without that competitive edge? And I feel like this but I have to retire because I can't mentally put it together. How do you do it? How do you spend the rest of your life accepting that? How do you learn to die twice?" I mean, that's where I'm sitting. How do you make it past the first one, knowing that you gotta do it again?

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