More than anything, it is the Monday mornings that give John Lynch pause for thought.
It is when the aches, pains and bruises of the game the day before, the accumulated battering of a season in the NFL, gang up on the Tampa Bay safety that there is occasionally a flicker of "what if. . ."
What if, for example, Lynch had chosen to use a 95 mph fastball to earn his paychecks instead of having to bring down 255-pound Ron Dayne?
What if, coming out of Stanford, Lynch had listened to the Florida Marlins, who made him a second-round choice in the 1992 Major League draft, instead of the Buccaneers who made him a third-round choice in the 1992 NFL draft?
Would his baseball career have taken him to Cooperstown, N.Y., where his Marlins cap already rests in the Baseball Hall of Fame, instead of his third Pro Bowl today?
"Id be lying to you if I said I didnt think about it on Monday mornings when I wake up sore," Lynch says. "Or, the times when I see pitchers making ($12 million) a year."
But deep down, beyond even where the pain of being pro footballs hardest-hitting safety the past eight seasons touches his bones, the second-guessing usually ends.
For football is more than just his first love in a multi-talented sports career. It is, if you have seen him intimidating wide receivers and running backs, his nature.
"Baseball is great and I love baseball, but football is my passion," the 6-foot-2, 220-pounder says.
"Everybody has their own style, and I take a lot of pride in my game," Lynch says. "(Hitting) is one thing Im known for. One thing I get a charge out of is trying to bring a lot of that physical aspect to the game."
"He possesses a unique mentality to go with his skill," Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy says. "An anvil on foot," is how former Tampa Bay coach Sam Wyche put it.
But when Lynch first appeared at Aloha Stadium in the 1992 Hula Bowl, it was anybodys guess which path his career would take. His father, John, had been a linebacker with the Pittsburgh Steelers, but the son first got noticed for his baseball talents.
It was a baseball career - one in which he threw the first pitch in the history of the Marlins organization - that took off first and offered the highest-paying prospects.
Football, meanwhile, was still something of a question. Hed been recruited to Stanford as a quarterback and only made the move to defensive back in his junior year. "When I first started playing minor league baseball I didnt even know if pro football would be an option," Lynch said.
When it became one, Lynch had a choice to make. In the end, "I had to listen to my heart. Thats what it came down to.
"And, thats what I am most proud of is that I made (the decision) with my heart. It was what I really wanted to do rather than what a lot of people thought I should do."