Devonta Freeman wasn’t sure how he found himself in Dan Quinn’s office, or why it was the size of an airplane hangar, or why the coach wore a dark robe with a hood that mostly obscured his features. He had been eating lunch in the Flowery Branch cafeteria when the bag was thrown over his head, four or five strong men grabbed him and lifted him off the ground, and he was rushed down what felt like an endless series of twisting hallways.
When the bag came off, and the minions had scurried away, there was just Freeman in a chair made of thorns and wire, across the black iron desk of Dan Quinn. From the downturn of Quinn’s mouth, the only part of him visible by the light of approximately two dozen Falcons-branded lava lamps, he was not happy.
“Do you know why I sent for you, Devonta?” Quinn asked, his voice like dry leaves rustling inside a bag of wet leaves.
“Well, coach, I’m guessing it has something to do with the fumbles. You know, I had wondered what kept happening to my teammates, and now it’s all clicking. At some point you have to start looking at yourself in the mirror, though, don’t you, coach? It can’t all be on us players, can it?”
“Silence!” roared a voice from the back of Quinn’s office. The sound of it filled the space like Dontari Poe in an extra small t-shirt.
Freeman heeded the voice, but not before scootching his chair four yards closer to Quinn’s desk.
Then Dan Quinn turned to the chair next to Freeman. In it was a perfectly unremarkable NFL football with a concerned face drawn on it, facing Quinn.
“And you, ball,” he began sternly, stopping only to glare at Freeman’s bewildered chuckle, “you share an equal blame in all this. If not for your love for butts and your hatred of Falcons touchdowns, we might have won this game. You will go into the fires together!”
“Not that,” the ball said, unconvincingly.
Freeman lunged from his chair to Quinn’s desk, but was stopped cold by the sudden appearance of the Great Metal Falcon at Quinn’s shoulder. When he skidded to a halt, the floor suddenly disappeared underneath him, and Freeman fell with legs still churning into the fiery abyss. He attempted to grab the dour-faced football on its way by, but fumbled it.
The floor snapped shut as it always did, and Quinn sank a little deeper into his chair. Once more, there was silence. The Great Metal Falcon sat pensively near Quinn’s shoulder, looming over him, as it always did.
“How are we going to slake your bloodlust in the offseason?” Quinn finally asked, flicking a finger at a lava lamp.
“I dunno, sacrifice the least productive janitor? I’ll get some guys together, we’ll workshop it,” the Great Metal Falcon said.