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 inical professor at the Yale University School of Medicine. At the height of the TSS epidemic in 1980, there were about 200 case

The NFL season is in full swing, and with the AFL done and dusted for another year -- congratulations to the Bulldogs, by the way -- it means I can now give full attention to my other major sporting love. I havent always followed American football, but its fair to say I am a massive fan now.The first game of NFL I ever saw live was in 2008, at a freezing cold Meadowland stadium in New York watching the Jets play the Bills. Former Geelong fullback and one of the first Aussie NFL punters Ben Graham had kindly organised us tickets. To say we (myself and six Saints teammates) were excited was an understatement. To say we left disappointed was an even greater understatement - we saw five field goals and a 9-6 scoreline. Hardly a good advertisement for the game.Fast forward almost 10 years and I cant get enough of it, probably thanks to my American wife Cath. The AFL offseason coincides with start of NFL/college seasons, so I get over exposed once I get to the US for my end-of-season break.The NFL is vastly different to footy in so many ways, but the more Ive developed an understanding for the game, the more my appreciation has grown. I love the athleticism and raw power of the athletes - I think that would be obvious to anyone who watches.A few years back, the Saints flew to Colorado for off-season training and we were privileged to spend time with the Denver Broncos. The pure size of the players is what struck me most but I was also blown away with how athletic the really big guys are. Sure I knew the receivers, corners and running backs could move, but Id underestimated the speed and agility of the others.People often ask about switching codes and who could play what position. The skill sets in both our sports are so specific, I think anyone attempting a transition Jarryd Hayne-style would find it extraordinarily difficult, as Hayne experienced at the 49ers, and former Gold Coast utility Joel Wilkinson also discovered in his brief time with the Arizona Cardinals.Prior to meeting my wife and becoming a Houston Texans fan, I really just followed the great players. Ive always loved Tom Brady but more recently have been extremely spoilt to watch on a weekly basis one of the all-time great defenders, pass rushers and Houston icons in J.J. Watt. He is 65 and 295lb (134kg) and can box jump over five feet - check it out on Youtube!Athletic attributes aside, many NFL players are highly entertaining. Culturally they are celebrated for being outlandish, outspoken and controversial, far more than players in the AFL. Some of the post-touchdown celebrations that have clearly been choreographed that seem to fly over there would be derided and chastised by a player kicking a goal in Australia.Ive also come to love the strategy and small nuances in American football. Like any sport, I enjoy watching the great teams with brilliant systems and coaching such as the New England Patriots, and I love watching the premier quarterbacks dissect a defence and alter plays at the line of scrimmage - ala Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. In the ultimate display of power, speed and strength which is the NFL, there is still a place for brains and cunning.The television and media coverage is outstanding and by watching with those that truly know the game, my love and appreciation has only been enhanced. Despite this, its always difficult watching games live in Australia given the time difference.However, the fantasy football craze dictates that I stay well and truly up-to-date on all the games. Ive been in a league with a bunch of random AFL types for the past seven years, including Adam Kingsley, Matthew Primus and Jacob Surjan. Im also in a league with 10 St Kilda players and one in Houston with my mates there.Perhaps the only aspect of the game I dont like is its stop-start nature. Attending live games, the league caters for this by filling in the blanks with entertainment for the crowd, whether that be acknowledgements to the armed services or on-field activations involving fans. Over the past seven years Ive been lucky enough to attend the majority of Houston and Baylor University home games during my time in the States.College fans are generally more passionate than NFL supporters from what Ive witnessed. Every weekend, thousands of past and current students go back to the hundreds of colleges around the States to cheers on their alma mater. Consider this: last year, four colleges (Michigan, Ohio State, Alabama and University of Texas) all averaged home crowds of more than 100,000. Thats more than the MCG on grand final day! And also consider this: legendary Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh earns around $AU7m a year, which is more than 26 NFL coaches. Thats how big college football is.When Im in Texas over the off-season, we attend every Baylor home game and Ill admit Ive become a fully-fledged Bears fan. They have recently completed a brand new 50,000 seat stadium on the Brazos River in Waco, which they fill every week. Its easy to see why some American football fans prefer the college game to NFL, as it tends to be a far more attacking style of game than the pro version, and therefore fans enjoy higher scores and more frequent big plays.NFL - and other major American sporting codes - seem to be gaining in popularity among Australian sporting fans. There are several others at the Saints who share my passion for the game and AFL-wide the appreciation seems to be growing.Ive taken great interest in reading fellow ESPN columnist and NFL fan Josh Jenkins take on the game and wouldnt mind challenging him in one of our fantasy leagues next year. And if he ever feels like joining the Saints, Im always looking for someone to practice throwing spirals with at training! Discount Green Bay Packers Jerseys . -- Ryan Blaney provided more evidence that Penske Racings No. Jamaal Williams Jersey . Didier Drogba gave away the penalty that put Senegal one goal away from a major upset, but the veteran striker will get another chance -- probably his last -- at the World Cup after Salomon Kalous injury-time strike sealed the Ivorians place in Brazil next year. . Bryzgalov stopped 25 shots on Saturday in the Oklahoma City Barons 4-1 victory over the Abbotsford Heat. The Oilers signed Bryzgalov to a one-year $2 million contract last Friday after shedding payroll by dealing defenceman Ladislav Smid to the Flames. Wholesale Packers Jerseys China .ca looks back at the stories and moments that made the year memorable. Jason Spriggs Jersey . After slipping from the summit during the week, the Gunners overcame struggling Crystal Palace 2-0 on Sunday thanks to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlains second-half brace. The adage my body is my temple has become synonymous with health and well-being, yet few industries are predicated on the phrase more than sports and modeling. Both career paths require complete excellence of form and a schedule that would exhaust most. For Lauren Wasser, 28, straddling the fashion world and the basketball court was always a way of life.Both my mom and dad were models, she said in a phone interview. My mom [Pamela Cook] was one of the it girls in the 80s and 90s with Stephanie Seymour, Cindy Crawford and all those models. My mother and I literally traveled everywhere together. We were like two peas in a pod. I was in Italian Vogue when I was just 3 months old, being shot by [famed photographer] Patrick Demarchelier. And then we did a bunch of Gap ads together. I definitely grew up into that way of life.And while modeling was something that came naturally to Wasser, she said basketball was always her true passion.First and foremost, I loved basketball, she said. My dad introduced me to basketball when I was a baby. But he wasnt [really] in my life at all. I was raised by a single mom. So basketball became my escape and safe place. Whenever I stepped on the court, it felt like I could leave everything there. It was my release.Wasser hoped to turn her passion into a career, and playing for the WNBA was on her short list of goals. The 2000 movie Love & Basketball quickly became her favorite film, and continues to be today. She wanted to mimic the life of protagonist Monica Wright as best she could by going to a D-I school. However, she gave up a full scholarship, deferred her dream a bit and opted to nurture her then-budding modeling career.She thought shed return to the game, eventually.Then things changed. In October 2012, she started having flu-like symptoms.I had been using the same [feminine hygiene] product for 11 years, and my period is very heavy, so I was using the super plus tampons, Wasser said. I ran out to the drugstore that morning and bought a box from the same brand. I changed my tampon, then lied down in bed and realized I was feeling really terrible. I texted my friends because it was fall and the flu was going around. So many of them had been sick. I let them know that I wouldnt be able to make it out to a friends party that night.But as the day went on and Wasser changed her tampon again, her condition began to worsen. However, she fought through it.She picked herself up and actually made it to the bar, and as soon as she walked in, her friends remarked that she looked incredibly ill. At that moment, it hit her that the situation might be serious.I drove myself back to my apartment [that night, after leaving the party] and took off all of my clothes when I got there, she said. I felt like my body was burning from the inside. I hopped in my bed and was woken up [in the middle of the night] by my cocker spaniel jumping on my chest and the knock of police on my door. My mother and I are really close, and she called in a welfare check on me because she hadnt heard from me in a while. When I let the officer in and looked around, I realized just how much time had passed, because I wasnt able to take my dog out and she had ended up relieving herself in my apartment.Wasser didnt realize it at the time, but her fever had spiked to 107 degrees. Her mother suggested calling an ambulance, but she just wanted to rest and stated that they would talk again the next morning.But that call never happened. So Wassers mother, who had just undergone surgery and lived more than an hour away, headed over to her apartment, only to find her laying on the bedroom floor.By that time, Wassers organs had already begun to fail, but luckily, the nearest hospital was only a few blocks away. Though she suffered a heart attack while en route. Had it not been for the infectious disease specialist on staff, no one would have been able to figure out why things were going so wrong. After inquiring about Wassers menstrual cycle, the doctor discovered that she was wearing a tampon. After the test results came back, it was uncovered that she indeed had Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), which often results from toxins produced by Staphylococcus aureus (staph) bacteria.TSS is very rare, said Dr. Mary Jane Minkin, a board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist and a clinical professor at the Yale University School of Medicine. At the height of the TSS epidemic in 1980, there were about 200 cases in the U.S., and one of the major discoveries was that it was really a phenomenon related to tampon usage. The major guideline that occurred was the recommendation that women use the least absorbent tampon that they could, and many of the really super absorbent tampons that were on the market were removed.But such isnt the case now, and a super plus tampon like Wasser used, specifically meant to aid women with protection from heavy flows, is commonplace.Though she didnt know it then, Wasser was already in the throes of the disease, which starts with a fever rising from 102 degrees and beyond, then leads to desquamates, or skin shedding -- especially of the palms and soles -- 1-2 weeks after onset. Thhough coming in and out of a medically induced coma, she remembered the tar-like substance (likely bacteria) that was being drained from her body into huge jars.ddddddddddddThey told my mom and my stepdad to prepare my funeral, because there was no way Id survive, based on how bad the damage was and the severity of my situation, Wasser said. I woke up a week-and-a-half later from a coma, and I felt like my legs and feet were on fire. Then they starting to become discolored. And I heard a nurse talking about a 24-year-old patient who would need a below-the-knee amputation. It took me some time to realize she was talking about me.But what would a star athlete do without her legs, Wasser thought?Wasser begged and pleaded to her mom and doctors to save her limbs, but gangrene had set in and was moving up her leg at a rapid speed, the result of seriously low blood pressure, another byproduct of the disease. Thus, Wassers lower right leg, as well as the toes on her left foot had to be removed. She was given a 50 percent chance of ever walking again.I was in the hospital for four months and after they sent me home, I was in a wheelchair for eight months, Wasser said.But losing a limb wouldnt slow her down. Thereafter, she committed herself to using her platform wisely.Ive now returned to fashion, and Im using the connections I have through it, she said. I have purpose. Through sharing my story -- Im getting emails from women who had TSS in 1978, and mothers who are in the ICU and forcing their doctors to read my article because they arent paying attention to the potential symptoms.Wasser told one such story of a doctor who uncovered that his patient had TSS from a woman who pushed him to read her story.Now, Wasser just wants to help save lives.I didnt have that encouragement when I was first grappling with TSS, Wasser said. I didnt know anyone who had [it], because I think the disease is pushed under the rug as a whole. So here I am trying to educate the world and force a change for good. Its surprising how many lives have been affected by it over the past 30 years, and there arent [many] statistics being kept about it.Wasser found a major ally in New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, who has brought the Robin Danielson Act in front of Congress nine times. The bill gives women knowledge about the materials that make up feminine hygiene products and their long-term effects.Of the legislation, Wasser said: It has been rejected nine times, which is ridiculous for such a basic right.She continued, Its a very important bill, and we all have the right to know what were putting in our bodies. Many more people need to be aware of it, so we can actually make a change.But Wasser said she has seen a change in the marketplace since she began sharing her story.Ive noticed that the door has been opened for women-centric companies like Thinx and Lola that didnt have a lane just a few years ago.Now, fashion and modeling have taken on a completely new meaning for Wasser. Taking photos, posing in campaigns and walking the runway have now given her the chance to show people the beauty in prosthetics.I want the image of disabled people like myself to change into a picture of strength, she said. Fashion needs to redefine its idea of beauty and have more of an open mind.Wasser even admitted that she was a bit of a mean girl in her younger years.I used to look at fashion from a superficial standpoint, and I can admit now that I wasnt so nice of a person, she said. I was a bit of a jerk, and going through all of this has changed my outlook and opinion on so many things.When it comes to inclusivity in the fashion industry, Wasser agrees that progress is happening, albeit slowly. She has walked on the runway for fashion line Chromat as well as other globally recognized brands and is modeling as one of the faces of Kenneth Coles Fall 2016 ad campaign.She said shes proud of the boundaries she has helped to break so far.Its a conversation that is ongoing, and social media is giving disabled people all over the globe a platform, Wasser said. The industry has become more accepting, because theyre realizing how many people need that representation and visibility.As for her future with basketball, Wasser is still hitting the courts.Dont get me wrong, my handle game is still strong, she said. And my girlfriend has two amazing boys who are die-hard athletes, so I shoot around with them and coach them however I can. I have a love for the game that will never be broken, regardless of my circumstances. Im always going to be around it and involved in it.But Wasser said her next endeavor, surprisingly, is music, and she has just finished her first EP.I used to take photos as therapy, but [performing] also serves the same purpose -- just in a different way, she said. Im just happy to have a second chance at living, so I want to make it a good one.Faith Cummings writes for Paper Magazine and, among other publications. Check her out on Twitter?@fcummings to see more of her work. 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