The locker room is crowded. It’s the preseason. The number of football players in attendence is almost doubled compared to a regular season game. The players closest to the HEAD COACH are down on one knee, so that those behind can see.
COACH: Am I going to tell you, that this is the big game? I’m not gonna do that. I’m not gonna do that. But hey, listen. This is a big game. Once the season starts, you all will be in the same boat, fighting these mother*** for real.
Yeahs and cheers. One smaller player shakingly imitates firing a patrol boat gun.
COACH(CONT’D): No matter the paycheck or anything. No matter if you’re an undrafted, playin’ for Chuck’s chicken feed…
A sturdy assitant coach in the background seems to wake up.
COACH (CONT’D): — or if you eat us out of house and home.
Whoos and Ahhss as he’s playfully boxing against the pads of a freakish physical specimen, who just shrugs ‘Can’t help it’.
COACH (CONT’D): But we all know: This is a special time as well. We got new brothers in arms, got to know each other in camp, bonded quite a bit. But unfortunately, the boat can’t carry them all.
It’s quieter now.
COACH (CONT_D): That’s the league. I’m not gonna lie about it, that’s life.
So what are you supposed to do? If you feel you’re on the fringe, compete at the best of your ability. Show effort. Don’t press to hard. Try to enjoy the experience.
If you feel safe…for now… be a good teammate. The guy next to you might fight to make his dream come true. Don’t ruin his shot by giving a lazy ass performance.
COACH (CONT’D): Let me tell you a short story. The story is not necessarily short, but I know how much you guys love to pee, so…
COACH (CONT’D): Back in my days I had to play preseason, too. O-liner by trade, if you thought you made me balloon… Well, in short: Focus wasn’t there, I didn’t make a good job protecting a young, hopeful quarterback. He was constantly under fire, tried too much to compensate, and eventually got injured badly. Next he sold cars down in Reno.
Some of the younger player’s eyes seem to be set on rows of used cars.
COACH (CONT’D): Would he have made the team? Would he be a Hall of Famer by now? I don’t know. But I know, that I would give my ring, I would give my hand for the chance to make these blocks properly.
He gathers himself. Raises his arm, they follow.
COACH: ‘Team’ on three. ONE, TWO, THREE…
They clap and leave loudly through several doors. A slim player with a goatie approaches the coach conspirationally.
PLAYER: Fifty bucks you made that story up, coach.
Coach (grimacing): Jesus, you kickers make too much money not doing shit… We’ll sign my auntie Emma to kick for fifty bucks.
Kicker howls, Coach shakes his head.