Didn't you always hate it when your Father would start off a story, "Back when I was a kid," and ending with "...walking five miles to school--in the snow?" Me, too! The only problem is, I don't know how to start this story any other way...
So, back when I played, it was different than it is today. I'm not saying I'm ancient and used to practice with Sonny Jurgensen; it's just that a lot has changed over the past 12 years.xml:namespace prefix = o /
As a child, when the NFL games were on, we'd rarely sit and watch them. The first thing we did was to grab a ball and go play the game outside. Why would you want to watch when you could go out and feel what the players were feeling? From then on I was hooked; Neanderthalism, adrenaline, ego and, some day, money, all rolled into one cool game.
Being in the pros was so cool. Sometimes I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. I used to giggle and talk to myself about it all the time: "Ok, let me get this straight, I get to work out, play a sport I love, the ladies will think I'm something special, and they're going to pay me more than our President is making? It's a deal!
My rookie year was the toughest year! Six weeks of two-a-days/training camp, experiencing humility for the first time in my life, and always still wondering if I was good enough.
We ended up losing that game, but what a rush! I was so geeked up I couldn't breathe, and that was just in pre-game warm-ups. Out on the field, the hash marks seemed 4 feet thick, and I was holding together like a soup sandwich. Later on, in the off season, I had a few cold ones with Randy Cross, one of the Niner's offensive guards, and asked him how I did that opening day. He said, "Well, rookie, you made our highlight video." It took me a minute, then the light went on and it still makes me smile to this day. So, here is the first "Big E" tip you'll get from me: It's never good to make the other team's highlight reel!