- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
Maguire's shadow loomed over me. "What the hell you doing, Lust?" he shouted. (The Bills called me Lust because I had torn the "eg" from the name tape on my locker. I wanted to think of myself as lusting daily after success.)
"Practicing," I said. "Practicing?" he yelled. "What the hell are you practicing?" I tried to explain, but he wasn't listening. Once Maguire had you it was no good answering back.
I was very serious about psychocybernetics. I was serious, too, when I was with the Steelers and tried hypnosis. I want to be the best. I am .better now than ever, but I want greater height, greater distance. I want to kick 60-yard field goals consistently. I want to kick off 70 yards consistently. I put myself to sleep saying "keep your head down" and wake up mumbling "follow through" and in between I have nightmares of coaches, 10 or 12 of them, all in a line, waiting for a chance to tell me to turn in my aniform.
Why I have not quit long ago is a mystery to my friends and family. I have heard many words of discouragement. My brother has reminded me of the lunacy of my ambition. My father was against the idea from the start.
The struggle is never really over. Once a Packer, not always a Packer. Tomorrow maybe a Buffalo Bill or a Pittsburgh Steeler or a Miami Dolphin—or a New Bedford Sweeper or a Brighton Knight. And you don't know what it's like to be cut until you've been cut by the Hartford Charter Oaks.
How many times—six, eight?—have I heard the footsteps in the hall and the chilling early-morning call from the other side of the door: "Hey, Booth, wake up. The coach wants to see you."
I think if a psychiatrist were to look into my history he would see things that explain a lot. Was I small? Yes. Was I misunderstood? Always. Did I have acne? No, but I had an eczemalike infection around the eyes that made the skin red and puffy and made me look old before my time.
When I got old enough to look my age the skin condition had another effect: it made me look as if I'd just come off a two-day drunk. Special creams didn't help. I went to 13 doctors. I had three operations. Many coaches I have played for (or tried to play for) have asked me: "Where were you last night, Lusteg?" I was probably in my room putting cream on my eyes.
I learned not to sit under a direct light while talking with coaches. I learned to slide my chair around. Once while talking with a coach I kept sliding around until I was safely in the shadow between two fluorescent lights. He must have thought I was nuts.
I lived most of my childhood in a trailer in Branford, Conn. My father bought the trailer to take us to California, but we never left the New Haven area.