By Jeff Tedford
Gentlemen. You know what tomorrow is. This coaching staff has spent far too many hours bombarding you with information about tomorrow; they’ve spent twice that many hours thinking about that same information, about how to get it to you, how to package it so you’ll understand the urgency of what just 24 hours will bring, about how to distill its essence, to – if you will – market tomorrow to you, today.
You know the importance. I don’t have to stress that, and I’ve never been one for speeches. Tomorrow is big enough by itself to get you motivated. There is nothing I can say or do to get you more mentally and spiritually ready for what you’re about to face. Instead, I simply want to reiterate what we’ve gone through. Not for your sake, gentlemen, but for my own. Because tomorrow you’ll go out and play your hearts out without a care in the world. I miss that. I’d give anything to be out there with you, fighting a common foe with my hands and my heart. No, tomorrow I’ll be on the sideline, and I’m the one who’ll need reminders about what needs to be done. By “sidelines” I mean special guest expert on Good Morning America, Oprah and the Colbert Report, but you know just as well as I do that they all mean the same thing anyway: I’m gonna be the guy who looks like he knows what he’s doing so other people can get the doing done. So I’m gonna remind myself right here in front of you, on the eve of battle, and you’re gonna listen and tell me what I’ve missed.
To start: Valentine’s Day. I’m gonna come right out and say it, really say it: Valentine’s Day. I need to face my fears. Even me, a football coach for twenty years and the World’s Greatest Lover for forty-five years, even I’m stuck at night thinking about it, wondering if I’ll fall, fearing the consequences of one too many double entendres. There is no shame in that. There is no shame in having fear.
There is shame in letting fear master you, though. But it’s not enough for one man to tell another that fear is nothing to be feared. We need ways, methods, strategies. Fear needs to be conquered like any other foe: with strength, and with cunning.
Strength: we are stronger than them. Literally. Women can’t pick up couches and maneuver them through doorways and into corners and back through doorways into the room you told them should’ve been that couch’s home to begin with. They have us do that, and in doing so we demonstrate our literal strength – the tendons and muscles that make us the warriors of the race – and our occupational strength in the role of protectors, of doers, of men. Flaunt that strength. Ask her to ask you where the beach is, then roll up that shirt sleeve, flex that bicep and point to the left. Then point to the right. Then say, “Gee, I dunno, looks like you’re already at Muscle Beach.”
Cunning: we are smarter. It’s science. Fact: we all know that stupid flex and point at the beach shit isn’t going to cut it against a foe like this. Unless it will cut it, in which case congratulations. For the majority of us that one encounter is just that: one encounter in a series of encounters that, taken in totality, will determine our success or failure. And in that one encounter you’ll have demonstrated your cunning. By flexing your bicep and pointing like the manifestation of the dumbest male stereotype available to the imagination you plant a seed of doubt in her mind. Like I always tell my defensive ends: rush fast to the outside twice, then on the third time hit that offensive tackle with a bullrush so hard you pancake him. Fool him – and her – then bullrush him – and her, but only with her express permission or else it’s illegal – and you’ll be up to your neck in sacks. Or sex. Think about it.
Remember that it’s the little things that count. Details, gentlemen. When the other team’s coach calls for a full out blitz that usually means there’s a hot route somewhere. Maybe even two or three. In most cases the quarterback needs to recognize that and get his ball to his open receivers – and sometimes he needs to call an audible for max protection, telling his fullback and tight end to stay in and block. So if she comes on to you like there’s no tomorrow, evaluate the situation. Is this a hot route? Do you need to get your ball in there as fast as possible? That might be the case… or she may be crazy as fuck and you need to get out of there before you get to her apartment filled with baby posters and Scientology pamphlets and “forgotten” promise rings. In that case max protection means faking a burst appendix.
Or maybe if her blitz is on she’s left two or three receivers – or friends – open. In that case max protection means you call in your fullback and tight end because those lugs need a reward for having your back. Or you could just have a three- or foursome. That’s why we have audibles: flexibility means options, and options mean two girls – one of them very lonely and clearly in need of company, or else what’s she doing with you and your girl on Valentine’s Day? – attacking you without mercy.
Details: what kind of coverage is she running? If her safety is up and she’s on her third margarita, she’s in zone. If the corners of her eyes follow your buttocks as you motion towards the restroom she’s in man. Either way you’re good, because as an aspiring World’s Greatest Lover you know how to mix a drink and tone that ass with lunges.
Another detail that often goes unlooked: don’t buy her chocolates. Women love chocolate, yes, but chocolate makes women fat and fat women are no one’s success. If there’s a football analogy for this I’d like to hear it. Otherwise: avoid getting her fat.
Lobster, though, won’t get her fat. It’ll just give her high cholesterol. Ordering lobster will make you look like someone who’s willing to do anything to make her happy. Then ask for her butter to be warmed slightly, but only enough that it’ll congeal by the time she gets that shell cracked and ready to go. That way she won’t be dipping into the butter and getting fat; then she probably won’t even finish her lobster (because who likes lobster without melted butter?) and she’ll just get drunker on an empty stomach, leaving the lobster for you and your still warm butter. Did I mention margarita number three will be even more effective now? This is exactly like a solid run and passing game: she’ll have to pick her poison, and in the end you’ll get 200 on the ground and 200 through the air without even lifting a lobster fork. No one wants to put eight in the box against an effective throwing game, and she won’t want to risk outgrowing a size eight.
What’s that? No, Syd’Quan, you’re not gonna need to know her size. That was just for verisimilitude. What you will need to know is how to say “I love you” without saying it. It’s gonna be tough. Tomorrow you’re gonna face the toughest opposition you’ll see the entire year, and the key to the game is gonna be your ability to deceive when necessary. Once again, gentlemen, I know I’ve been saying this all week. Repeat it for me, though…
“This is such a special night.”
“You make me feel good.”
“I’m glad I’m here with you.”
Remember: whispering is stronger than shouting. That double move may look cool, but it’s nothing against a guy who runs his posts so precisely that his post-corner leaves everyone behind.
Visualize. Focus. Believe. Tomorrow, victory will be yours.