- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
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 X.
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.
The coaches 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.
This morning, 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.