A Few Seconds of Panic: A Sportswriter Plays in the NFL by Stefan Fatsis

By Stefan Fatsis

In Word Freak, Stefan Fatsis invaded the insular global of aggressive Scrabble gamers, eventually attaining an expert-level rating. Now, in his new booklet, he infiltrates a strikingly diversified subculture-pro soccer. After greater than a 12 months of education, Fatsis molded his fortyish physique into one who may well stand up-barely-to the trials of NFL education. And for 3 months he turned a placekicker for the Denver Broncos. profiting from extraordinary entry to an NFL staff and its gamers, and drawing on his personal own adventure, Fatsis with wry candor and hard-won empathy unveils the brain of the trendy seasoned athlete and the workings of a storied activities franchise as no author has ahead of.

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I finished the bottle—and the thesis—off at five Monday morning. I fell asleep on the couch. Rhonda quietly got the Getting Here boys up and hushed them off to school, where she worked as a teaching assistant. Almost noon I woke up to find the empty bottle of Bacardi tucked in beside me on the couch. I wrenched it out with a little too much force and it flung past me to shatter on the floor. Shit. Shards everywhere. I rushed to pick them up, cutting my feet in the dash to the kitchen for the dustpan.

Whenever we get rollin’ on the booze, Todd retreats to the basement. I swing open the front door to get a breath of the cool, crisp fall air. How long since Dana left? I have no idea. Several plates littered with shards of burnt toast and hardened egg yolk ring my bed. I need a drink. I slink down the stairs into Todd’s tiny windowless, airless bedroom. I tiptoe my way through piles of stale, dirty laundry. I leave the light off—don’t want to alert him to my presence. I hear him laugh at the TV.

All of which is my way of saying I learned early the importance of perseverance and determination, of sticking up for myself. “Bitesize. Shorty. Half-a-Man. Little Fella. ” The nicknames stuck, said now with warmth and respect, the sting gone. I fashion us all fishing rods out of willow branches and some old line and hooks I find in a broom closet by the wood stove. The fire in the stove sputters and hisses. “Michael, Michael, take us down to fish,” my little sisters beg. I turn the little cottage upside down, but there is no bait to be found, and no shovel to dig for worms.

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