The literature of nausea has come to professional football: the “I Was a Vampire for the Chicago Bears” school for one crowd, and “I Was a Rich Owner’s Plaything” for the other.
Wilfred Sheed, Unnecessary Roughness
It hasn’t been easy being third linebacker on the depth chart for the Chicago Bears this season. I figured Jonathan Bostic’s not going anywhere, and every time I take on Christian Jones at the Thursday afternoon challenge session, he beats me in the “45″ drill and the “Hamburger” drill. I might as well be a tackling dummy–I’d have a better chance of getting in a game.
Victim of after-party concussion syndrome
I figured special teams was the only way I was gonna see any action, and then linebacker coach Herring came to me and said to be ready for next Monday night’s game against the Saints, they were gonna have to use me in a lotta situations.
“Why, what’s up?” I asked.
“We’ve noticed your game improves dramatically when we play at night. We looked at the film of the pre-season game against the Eagles, and the September game against the Jets. Don’t know what it is, but you’re a freakin’ beast when the sun goes down!” Well sure, linebackers are like that; part man, part beast. You’re basically an animal with certain human characteristics, like you walk upright like a man, unlike down linemen.
“Wow. Uh, thanks coach, you won’t regret it, I promise you.”
“Shoot 2, blitz 5 in the nickel package–ready, break!”
“Just keep doin’ what you been doin’ in the . . . uh, crepuscular hours between dusk and dawn, okay?”
And that, along with the obligatory slap on the butt, sealed the deal. I can’t tell you what it meant to me to be starting for a change.
I practiced like a maniac all week, trying to show the coaches their faith in me wasn’t misplaced. Maybe I overdid the animal thing just a wee bit. Coach Trestman got kind of upset when I grabbed his Lhasa Apso in my mouth and started shaking him from side to side–the dog, not the coach. I was kidding, fer Christ sake! I love animals, really. Especially with a little A-1 Sauce on the side.
“Hey–take my dog outta your mouth.”
On Halloween the team likes to kid around a little, so I did my Count Dracula routine–cape, fangs, the whole bit. I do a pretty good Bela Lugosi imitation–”Ve vill blitz on third down, and your silly screen pass will still fall to the ground–for naught!”
“Ah–fresh, unspoiled dance team member!”
We did it in the Children’s Hospital, I tell ya, it breaks your heart to see them little kids in there suffering. One of them needed a blood transfusion and I was happy to help out, it was nothing really. I mean, when you’re a football player you’re spitting all the time anyway, so I just hooked him up to my oral IV machine and he was fine. I hope coach’s dog was the right blood type.
But now I gotta focus on Monday night. I’ve committed the playbook to memory, the other guys have been really impressed how absorbed I get in it. The trainer said I seemed a little obsessive-compulsive about it, like maybe I had arithmomania or something. I told him to blow it out his shorts. I had to count all the seats in Soldier Field, I didn’t have time for his b.s.
“24,274 . . . 24,275 . . . 24,276 . . .”
Anyway, I’m trying to carb up for Monday, the Saints O-line is tough, lemme tell ya. I’m gonna grab me a couple of slices of pizza from the training table and . . .
Whadda ya mean, I can’t have any of the broccoli and garlic?