As I’ve said before, I’m not really much of a reader. Your parents may have told you that reading is cool, but that’s a lie. Reading is crazy gay. If one of your roommates is playing Madden and the other one is reading “Eat. Pray. Love,” guess which one you’re gonna want to go drinking with? Not the douche trying to expand his mind, that’s for sure.
But recently, best-selling author and Official Friend Of The Blog Stefan Fatsis sent us a copy of his new book ”A Few Seconds Of Panic,” which comes out today. So I read it. And, in doing so, it occurred to me that one way to alleviate the agony of not being able to watch football during the offseason is to read about it. Who knew? It’s almost as good as the real thing. Except I can’t hold a beer, eat chips, and hold open a book simultaneously. Hey publishing industry: if you want more of us to read, every book should come with a free music stand to rest the book on. That would be some good shit.
Fatsis wrote his book after spending training camp with the Broncos as a place kicker and then covering the team through the 2006 season, a season that included Jake Plummer’s benching in favor of Jay Cutler, and Darrent Williams’ murder on the same day the 49ers knocked the Broncos out of the playoff hunt. Fatsis also did not take part in ANY contact drills. What a puss! Hey Fatsis, put a hat on and go hit someone, you timid little Greek bastard. I don’t care if you’re “too old”, or “too small” or “in possession of two reconstructed knees that could crumple any second”. NFL players routinely destroy their bodies purely for my enjoyment. I see no reason why you can’t do the same.
The most illuminating thing about the book is the fact that, by and large, most football players can’t stand their fucking jobs. Oh, they like playing in games. But they only get to do that three hours a week. The rest of the week blows. The coaches are assholes. The fans are assholes. The media are assholes. The pay isn’t really all that great if you’re just a practice squadder. You get hurt constantly. And chronically. And, when you do get hurt, you don’t get a card that everyone in the office signs like at my day job. You get fired.
There’s no job security unless you’re an All-Pro, and 99% of guys aren’t that. Most of the players can’t even figure out why they do it. They’re constantly being hired, then fired, then rehired, and the re-fired. Hundreds of guys are hired every year to bust ass through camp, despite management having no intention of keeping them when roster cuts come down. Your pay for going through camp? A few grand. Most of those guys never even earn the yearly minimum. Coaches constantly tell players their jobs are in jeopardy, yet refuse to clue them in as to where they stand. If your boss did this, you’d fucking murder him.
In a way, it makes sense that NFL players are so jaded and cynical. Unlike most sports, football is the one sport where your time spent actually playing is but a mere fraction of the time you invest: lifting, practicing, going to boring as shit meetings, going to game “rehearsals” where you stand in formation 90 times over, etc. Compare that to baseball. Baseball players get to spend most of their time playing in REAL games. That’s fun. Football? Eh, not so much. You gotta sit through a whole lotta bullshit to get to Sunday.
You also come to learn a few other things from Fatsis’ book, like:
-Todd Sauerbrun is a total asshole.
-I mean it. A real douche. But you probably already surmised that.
-Tight end Nate Jackson’s hip hop name is “Jack Nasty”
-Mike Shanahan can best be described as aloof, detached, insensitive, unemotional, manipulative, uncharismatic, controlling, uncommunicative, petty, and at times incompetent. And, of course, overly tan. But most players agree, he’s one of the BETTER coaches to play for.
-Jake Plummer’s a badass.
-Jason Elam is one of those Tebow-esque, Evangelical Christian overachievers who seems kinda cool to hang out with. Unless you’re gay. He might not like that.
There’s also no shortage of candid, profanity-laced quotes from people in the Broncos organization that, when extrapolated from the broader story, could be totally blown out of proportion by the media. So let’s go ahead and do that right now…
Jake Plummer: “Yeah, I missed some (offseason) workouts. And you know what? Mike Shanahan, you can kiss my fucking ass for being pissed at that… I don’t want to be here every fucking day in the offseason.”
Nate Jackson: “Half the guys out there fuck up, basically, every single play.”
Ian Gold: “This is a business. When I’m here on this field, it is absolutely business. When I’m in the meeting rooms, it is business. Don’t hug me, don’t touch me, don’t call me your buddy, don’t tell me you love me, because I know you’ll motherfuck me as soon as I leave the room.”
Mike Shanahan (after a bad practice): “Guys get their opportunity, they shit in their hat.”
Tom Nalen (to Fatsis after missing a kick that would have saved players 30 minutes of meeting time): “Thanks for fucking us.”
Jake Plummer (to Pat Bowlen): “Hey, Mr. Bowlen, those are sweet boots. Where’d you get ‘em?”
Pat Bowlen (to Jake Plummer): “Aw, these are some fuckin’ ostrich skin. You got to get yourself a pair of these, you little fucker.”
(NOTE: Bowlen will indeed become a new KSK kharakter. He’s like the Double-J’s brother.)
Jason Elam (regarding the theory of evolution): “You’ve got this goo man they want you to think we came from. It doesn’t make sense to me.” (Yeah, scientists! What’s with this half-assed goo man shit? There’s nothing in the New Testament about Swamp Thing!)
Ian Gold: “The hard part for me is dealing with a lack of loyalty, dealing with people who have such a lack of integrity that it’s just sickening… You have coaches that will smile in your face and they’ll shit on you the next second.”
Jake Plummer (to Mike Shanahan during a game): “Just call the plays. I’m going out there and playing fucking football.”
Good stuff, Fatsis. You gave me a real glimpse inside the minds of NFL players. You got me to sympathize with them. Not enough to stop making fun of them, but a good amount nevertheless. I give your book a hefty FOUR THROWGASMS. I would have given you five, except that you say in the book that Matt Stover deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. Pfft. Matt Stover can suck my balls.