I’ve been called a beast in person for my throwing arm. And for other reasons.
I’m not bragging, but in my two years playing football for Clemson University, I’ve been top of my game with only three losses, two of which I was injured, and my replacement took to the field.
Nothing has stopped me from going for my dreams. I’ve lived, breathed and sweated football in order to make the draft as early as I could.
Sure, I party just as hard, I’m no saint, but I’m the first in the training room. I’m the first to run sprints and the last to leave the gym. If my body isn’t burning then I’m not finished.
They hail me as the new king.
A legend in the making, said sports center every week. Theo Fierro, untouchable. Hand of God. With the throwing arm of a missile.
Football is hard, especially being a college athlete when the number one focus needs to be completely on the game.
It seems unreal now that it’s only two years ago I was on the fast track to being part of the NFL and three weeks before declaring an early draft where I was said to place in the top two, but in practice of all places, some jerkoff sacked me like I was doing his mom. One torn rotator cuff later, I was out for months.
Done. Finished. Career over before I’ve even started. Or very close to it.
Footballers are a cut above average.
The name of the game is to be aggressive by nature, we’re required to always be in top peak physical condition in order to endure that dominance.
Quitting is not in our playbook, nor is fear and as much as I’ve lived by those rules for as long as I could hold a football in one hand, there’s a part of me that wants to let the fear creep in. To take over me until I drown in it.
It’s possibly the first time in my football life that I’m going into tomorrow, and the days after that, with no career goal in mind and I’m terrified to admit defeat.
Six months of surgery and intense PT and though they say I can play to a degree; I know I won’t be the king again and no way in hell I want to do something unless I can be my best. After a few thousand test throws, it’s more than noticeable to me and my coaches I’m not up to my own standards.
I’ve always had a rivalry with Tommy Bianchi, don’t ask me why or how it started, I’d have to tap out on that. We just rubbed each other the wrong way my freshman year and since I lived in the dorms that first year, and he was on the same floor as me, we were constantly in each other’s space.
Those guys who are just full of ego and up their own asses? That’s Tommy.
I want to punch him. More so because I have a gut feeling he deliberately ruined any chance I have with the NFL.
The asshole always did want my spot on the team. He doesn’t hide the fact that he hates me being the starting QB. He also didn’t like being a red shirt for his first year, whereas I got all the games—but do I think he’d try to take me out deliberately? I’d bet my Ford Raptor on it. The smirk he gave the day it was announced I was injured and off the schedule was proof enough.
Unlucky for that loser, he still isn’t getting my position.
Small mercies, I suppose. I would hate seeing him in my number.
For anyone who follows football, I’m the name in the collegiate NCAA ranks. Watched by scouts from an early age, offered scholarships to four schools.
Again, it’s not bragging, just stating a fact.
I’m ending the year as a sophomore without a full proof plan of what’s coming next. Coaches and scouts still have their eyes on me. Agents still want to represent me. I’ve worked hard to get back to the position I’m in, but it’s undeniable to myself that I’m anything like the star I was six months ago.
Pain is my best friend, the kind you don’t want hanging around.
Try as I might to feel positive, to listen to my parents when they say I still have a lot going for my future.
I just can’t.
Anyone knows one bad college game can devastate, but an injury can finish you.
Football is all I want to do—it’s in my blood and my skin. Ever since I was a small kid messing around in the yard with my dad. All those years of going to flag football, then playing for a local youth team and then for my high school as the quarterback. Many scouts later led to my full scholarship at Clem.
My future is supposed to be in the NFL—though I fully intend to finish my sports science degree. I want to play, not treat injuries.
With a half empty bottle of beer in one hand and the other scratching through my short, blond hair, a heavy body lands on the sofa beside me.
Bringing me out of my self-induced boo-hoo party of one, I send a glance to my best bud, roommate and all-around pain in the ass, Roddick Fury. Or as we call him; Dakota. No big secret why. That’s where he’s from.
“While you’re over here sulking like a little bitch, king, did you notice the party around you or the come fuck me looks you’re getting?”
I’m too busy drowning in the fact I was All American pick for both freshman and my sophomore years and it’s a huge possibility that I won’t ever get further than this point in football. A has-been. I’m still better than most, but I want to be a rocket not a damn snail. I lift the arm I’m cursing and feel a twinge of pain as I take the bottle to my lips.
“Don’t let me stop you scooping up the fuck me eyes, bro.” I tell Dakota, who even now has his eyes scanning the room of over a hundred people squashed into the football frat house.
“And take your sloppy seconds? Fuck you, man.” He laughs.
There’s no sloppy anything. I doubt I’ve had any of the girls at tonight’s party, though I don’t bother to check.
It doesn’t stop them trying though.
Wherever I go, the cafeteria, hallways, in class and most often at parties, I have girls trying to pull me aside to get into their tiny panties. Trying to pull me into rooms to lock me down.
Coach, in my freshman year warned us all about screwing around too much. Not only because it ruins our focus if all we’re thinking about is getting our dicks wet. But with some girls, their aim is latching onto future sports stars in hopes of hitching their wagon to someone who will earn the big bucks.
I don’t like any girl enough to let that happen, so I don’t form lasting attachments.
Unlike our other friend Wilson, who no word of a lie, found love his first week of school and more shockingly, they’re still together.
It’s only now that Dakota points it out to me that I look around the room and see a lot of couples doing a variety of upright sex on the dancefloor, grinding and popping their bodies together.
The deep bass of the common room music is felt through my sneakers. I would usually be the life and soul of the party, but I feel nothing as I sit there watching the scenes go on—only half listening to my best friend and teammate give details I didn’t ask for, from his laundry room exploits with a girl last night.
My aggravation trumps any enjoyment for partying or his dirty story, so I take the bottle to my lips, drain it and toss it on the table beside me. I might not be playing much ball this season…but I keep to my one beer rule. I’ve seen too many idiots getting into situations they can’t handle, all because they’ve gone beyond their limits.
I like my life be controlled with all my faculties intact.
“You not gonna tap that?” Dakota nudges my shoulder, without realizing it’s the one with the shooting pain stabbing me. I wince but say nothing about it. “Little Red is eating you up with her dirty gaze, man.”
“Not interested, D. Have at her.” Sexist, but true. The guys here are interchangeable for most of the athlete chasers.
“Shake out of it, man. So what you can’t play as you once did, we all gotta stop sometime, right? I don’t plan to play once I finish school.”
I know this. He wants to be his own entrepreneurial boss with plans to move to New York once we graduate. My party animal, manwhore friend has his head surprisingly screwed on right. He even interned with my dad in a few of his nightclubs last summer while I spent the summer training my ass off. And for what? Nothing, it seems now.
I’m a born football player. Without that I don’t know who I am.
Sick of my own whining, I send my gaze across the room, through bodies until I reach the redhead blatantly staring at me, a little smile touching her lips, deliberately making her hip bone jut out of her miniscule short shorts. Her legs go on for miles and I vaguely remember seeing her around.
As hot as she is—and the girl is all kinds of sexy, my dick remains calm inside my shorts. He and I are two depressed morons.
So as not to encourage her before she sashays over and climbs into my lap, I look away and haul myself up. “I’m gonna head out for something to eat, bro.”
“You can’t. It’s early.”
“I’m not in the mood for a party. I’ll bring you a pizza back.” Because food is mentioned and Dakota is a pig, he relents and lets me leave. Even before I’ve made it halfway across the floor he has the redheaded girl in his lap, attached to his mouth.
Whatever dark feelings I harbor, all it takes is the smell of oregano and a lot of cheese and my brain empties, my belly growling as I prowl inside the pizza restaurant that’s a few blocks away from where I live.
I like Nemo’s Pizzeria over anywhere else in this town and I’ve tried them all. South Carolina is my mom’s home state. We’ve always visited every summer, so I’m not new to the small college town. It didn’t stop me being homesick in those first few months, though. Man, that shit got so bad I almost booked a plane ticket home, ready to toss in the towel and admit I was a giant pussy for needing his mom and dad.
It took one call to my dad to calm my shit down. And though I go home for holidays and when I had my surgery, I now love the freedom.
I think maybe I need a weekend home with my crazy family. With a meeting with my advisor tomorrow to discuss the likelihood of my doing my bachelors and master’s degree at the same time, I figure I’ll wait until I have some answers before I hop a plane.
I’m about to be extremely happy for not staying at the party longer in just a few seconds while I wait for my triple pepperoni and cheese pie. Because as I stand at the counter, I hear the sweetest, huskiest voice coming from behind me.
“Hey, can I get by?”
Five simple words and my whole lower belly clenches and in my haste to turn around my elbow connects to a smaller, softer body and I hear her cry of pain, then I see the flair of a pissed off angry woman in her eyes.
Total meltdown is happening in my body.
Because I’ve just accidentally elbowed my future wife.
One click today: mybook.to/ManhattanStorm