In football, the offensive line consists of five (very large) men whose job is to block and prevent other (very large) men from tackling the quarterback before he has a chance to pass the ball to a teammate. While preventing the quarterback from being tackled is the goal, in practice, the best most offensive lines can do is buy the quarterback one or two extra seconds to set up and throw his pass. These few additional seconds may not seem like much to a casual observer, but look at things through the quarterback’s eyes: when the game is on the line and you’re staring down at large, fast men whose job is to come after you, having just one extra second to breathe and think is all the time in the world.

In 2014, I finished my anesthesia residency...

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