THURSDAY, AUG. 5:
X marks the spot
The staff won't
strike, and so Coach Rashad's career has ended before it started. But, as a
player, I'm starting to get a little keyed up for Saturday. It's not just NFL
propaganda that preseason games aren't exhibitions. You really can't play
football half-speed and half-assed except for one game every year: the Pro
Bowl. I've made the last four of those, and my favorite part of every Pro Bowl
is when somebody runs a punt back for a TD. It's not just me. In the Pro Bowl
nobody wants to be on the special teams. All the wide receivers want to be
The way almost
every team is aligned, the three receivers are X, Y and Z. Y is the tight end.
X is the wide receiver who lines up as the other end, away from the tight end.
Z is the flanker who lines up technically as a back. The other difference
between X and Z is that Z has to do much more blocking. That's the best part of
being X all the time.
Thought for today:
The funny thing is that you go to training camp to get into shape, but I'm sure
I drink more beer at Mankato than I do the rest of the year put together. You
lock a bunch of grown men up and make them thirsty working in the summer sun,
and what do you expect?
FRIDAY, AUG. 6:
The Hall of Fame
I like an end cut
of roast beef, and so today in Canton when the team gathered for lunch, I went
to the kitchen, the way I often do, and asked for an end cut. Usually, the way
it works out, they bring you that first, and it looks like I'm sort of a big
deal getting special treatment. There were some guys grumbling about that
today, so I laid it on pretty thick and told them how O.J. always got fed first
when he was at Buffalo, that that was just the way it was with superstars.
Later, when the waitress was bringing in the vanilla ice cream, I called to her
as she passed me by and said that I was supposed to be served first.
Well, she keeps on
going, but a couple minutes later she comes back and apologizes to me and and
says she's very sorry, she didn't realize I deserved the honor. Well, I
should've known something was up, but I was putting on airs so much, I just dug
right into that ice cream. Just before I swallowed it, I looked over and there
were Bud and the other coaches at their table about to burst. Another second
and I knew why: They'd scooped out the ice cream and filled the dish with
butter. I ate a huge big mouthful of butter.
exploded in laughter, and the whole room picked it up as soon as they realized
what had happened. Coaches are children too—and I'm going to get them back.
before the meal, some of us went over to visit the Hall of Fame and I saw the
jerseys of a lot of my idols hanging there: like Raymond Berry and Charley
Taylor. I was really touched, too, because I found my own photograph in there.
I thought: Sure, it's nice that I'm seeing my own photo in the Hall of Fame,
but you know who I'd really like to see it? The kids I grew up with. The kids
you knew when you were a kid too are always the hardest ones to impress for the
rest of your life, no matter what you accomplish, aren't they?
A few years ago I
was back in Tacoma, where I spent most of my childhood, and I saw an old buddy
and he asked me if I knew Fran Tarkenton. "Sure I do," I said.