He wanted to establish a standard for his future child. Tony Pashos wanted a story ready for the future, when perhaps that child started complaining about a homework assignment, a rough day. Anything. What he endured on the job in 2011 would end any conversation.
It started when Pashos, a right tackle who signed with the Redskins last week, ruptured a tendon in his left foot in the last preseason game of 2011. Cleveland, his team at the time, lacked depth.
Pashos' father, who emigrated from Greece in 1972, worked double shifts as a steel foreman and often came home dirty and smelly and even fainted once. His father never complained about how he had to work. So when the Browns asked Pashos to put off surgery, he obliged. And played.
"It was probably one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life," Pashos said.
He needed a shoe that was one size larger -- going from a 14 to a 15. His left shoe was custom fitted and raised on the bottom. Because of that, he also had to wear a larger shoe on his other foot to maintain proper balance. His left shoe lacked padding inside, and the plastic brace on his foot rubbed constantly on the shoe, causing severe blisters.
"I was almost playing barefoot in the NFL," he said. "It's really painful physically, but then mentally you're going against guys that are healthy and some of the most athletic guys in the NFL. Every week I had to find a way to battle with guys knowing I'm in a severe mismatch."
"It's the fabric of me," Pashos said. "I wanted to tell [my kids] one day that I had to go in week in and week out and I was hurt and I didn't say boo. So if they ever came to me and complained how hard they had it, I could say there was never a point in my life I backed down.
"There were times I struggled, and I'd say I can't wait until I'm healthy because I'll crush you. I regret having to be one legged against the best players on Earth knowing I could have done better with both legs."