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Slow Getting Up

Slow Getting Up

After a minute, I get up and walk off the field, mad at myself for not holding on to the ball. I almost caught it. Had it in my hands. But Willie McGinest, a linebacker for the Browns, dislodged it when he buried his shoulder into my temple and spun me around in the air. I hit the ground like a dead body.

I stand on the sidelines as Jay Cutler finishes the drive with his third touchdown pass of the quarter. It goes to Brandon Marshall. After the score B Marsh reaches for something in his pants but Brandon Stokley, another star receiver, stops him, fearing a flag for an unlicensed prop. The Browns receive the kickoff, can’t score, and we win. A much needed win; we had dropped the previous three. The locker room afterward is raucous with reenactments of the end zone shenanigans. B Marsh had been reaching for a homemade black and white unity glove he had tucked into his game pants, and now, in the safety of the locker room, Stokley’s standing on a bench doing his best Tommy Smith impression from the 1968 Olympics. It is two days after Barack Obama’s election and B Marsh wanted to honor the moment. His president is black and he is proud. And like many proud black men who came before him, he got bear hugged by whitey. Great gesture, bad timing. They call it the No Fun League for a reason.

On the airplane ride back to Denver I sit completely still and sip a cocktail. We used to have beers on the flights but NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell banned them. Legislate all you want, demand finds its supply. And booze is easier to smuggle past a tarmac TSA screening than a thirty pack.

I go to our team physician, Dr. Geraghty, and ask him if he could give me something for the pain.

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I can’t move my neck, Doc.

He says the best he can do is one Vicodin and one muscle relaxer and hands me two pills in a small bag.

That’s it? Two pills?

I hold up the nearly empty bag.

You’re going to make me hit the streets for this one?

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Sorry, Nate.

The two pills don’t make it off the plane. I lie in bed all weekend, unable to move my head. By the time Monday comes around I put on my sweats and drive into work, stiffer than a wedding night’s dick, as one of my coaches used to say. Business as usual.

Yes, I could have gone in for injury treatment over the weekend, but I’m sick of being treated for injuries, sick of spending time in the training room, sick of feeling fragile. It is my sixth year in the league. I’m well versed in the injury/rehab cycle of professional football. I know which injuries I need to treat and which ones I can handle on my own. This one I can handle. As long as I can run fast I’m fine.

I deal with the pain all week and by game day I am ready to play. It will be the last game of my career.

It is in Atlanta against the Falcons. We win 24 20. I have three catches for 33 yards. I jump over a cornerback after one of them. Most cornerbacks tackle low. They shoot for the kneecaps or the ankles because that’s how you can bring down a larger man. The announcer says I shouldn’t have jumped over him. He says it was too dangerous. I could have been hurt. Worse, I could have fumbled.

Several days after our win in Atlanta we’re practicing in preparation for the Raiders game at home in Denver. Practice is dragging along. We’re running plays against our scout team defense. There are two tight ends in the huddle: me and Tony Scheffler. Our quarterback,

Jay Cutler, calls a play that has us running mirrored corner routes on either side of the ball. Tony and I are always being scolded for not reaching our required depth on our routes. If the route calls for ten yards, we’re always breaking it off at nine. If it calls for twelve, we make it eleven. We’re the same that way: eager to get there and eager to get the ball. We break the huddle and agree to go for the full twelve this time.

I run it full and break to the corner. Jay throws me a fastball with an arc that leads me to the sideline. I burst to track it down and a lightning bolt strikes me from behind. My hamstring rips off the ass bone with a bang, the sound of my season ending right there.

A month later, after a three game losing streak puts us out of the playoffs for the third consecutive year, our team’s season ends, too. And a few days after that, our head coach, Mike Shanahan the man who brought me to Cheap NHL Jerseys Denver in the first place is fired. There is zero job security in the NFL. Everyone knows that. But if there was anything close to job security, everyone thought Coach Shanahan had it. He had won two Super Bowls for the city of Denver.

He was a close friend NFL Seattle Seahawks Jerseys Cheap Wholesale Hot Online of the owner. He was building a new house. We were good every year. But good isn

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