Thomas Dimitroff sat in his office poring over game film. There’s always work to be done when you’re running a pro football team. He jots down “urgent player” on his notepad, underling urgent seven times.
“We could really use more urgent players,” Dimitroff whispers to himself. “Urgently.”
Dan Quinn appears out of the darkness like a ghost, his face pale and white, seemingly floating off the ground.
“Danny, you aren’t looking too good. Do you need some reasonably priced food? You know, we are doing that at the new stadium. It’s a groundbreaking paradigm in pro sports. A slice of ‘za is only $3! Tell ‘em Tommy sent ya and they’ll give you an extra topping for free. If it’s Sandra, see if she says anything about me.”
Quinn looked tired, and Dimitroff knew exactly what this was going to be about.
“Look, when you brought me here, it was to coach football. I didn’t sign up to push players into a pit of fire to appease some giant bird that—”
“DANNY! You know it’s probably listening. And it’s not a giant bird, it’s more of a demigod falcon. Listen, I brought a lot of things over from the New England Patriots. You look for how they win so consistently. You know what I’m going to say. The three pillars are game film, analytics, and...”
“Blood sacrifices,” Quinn said.
“That’s right, blood sacrifices. You think you have it tough? Bill Belichick makes sacrifices to a large, drunk Bruins fan. The smell is terrible! And Bill does everything so methodically. In 2004, he sacrificed the whole team after a muffed punt. Oh man, you should have heard that Bruins fan, he was all like, ‘That’s a wicked pissah sacrifice you got going there, guy.’”
“Thomas, listen to me. I get fired up over pad level. I’m not fired up over a burning lake of fire hidden away in the indoor practice field. This can’t last forever. DLed keeps asking about all the charred skeletons out behind the dumpsters.”
Quinn was frustrated, but they’ve had this same discussion countless times.
“Danny, how many Super Bowl rings have you brought this team? I can answer for you. It’s zero. How many wins against the Eagles in the last year? Guess what, Dan, it’s also zero. You aren’t in a position to change what we do here. The same way we won’t give up on film review or analytics, we won’t give up on sacrifices. The sacrifices must return. They simply must return.”
Quinn’s eyes dropped. He knew it was inevitable. Maybe if Kyle Shanahan knew when to run the ball, he’d have a little more sway around here. Instead, Shanahan left the way of so many others: the pit of fire. Some escape, but some are punished in other ways. Like being the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.
Then just as he arrived, Quinn quietly returned to the shadows, darkness enveloping his body until he was no longer visible. He’s gotta get over this slump. Be like Belichick. But he probably can’t sacrifice the entire team.
MEET ME AT TOMMY’S OFFICE. IGNORE THE SMELL OF FIRE AND BRIMSTONE. BRING YOUR PLAYBOOK. I SWEAR, NOTHING WEIRD BUT DON’T TELL ANYONE.
Quinn hit send on the text, and immediately a car came screeching into the parking lot. It sideswiped three cars and crashed into the front of Flowery Branch, Damontae Kazee bursting through the windshield and running full speed toward the indoor practice facility.
Quinn shook his head and wondered back to the Carolina Panthers. Do they have some weird blood sacrifice thing? Like a giant cat? Maybe some sort of Jerry Richardson with a normal sized body but a gigantic head? Man, that’d be like those Pep Boys mascots. Way better than this giant bird.
Kazee runs full speed into Dimitroff’s office door, crown of his helmet right at the door jamb, bursting the door frame off the wall.
“Hey Kaz’, you know, there’s a knob. Actually, this is the problem. You can’t replace Keanu Neal if you are getting injured or ejected or suspended. I need you to rise up, not smash into Cam Newton’s helmet when he’s on the ground. You’re a smart kid. Maybe the falcon will judge you accordingly.”
Kazee blew past Quinn straight towards Samuel L. Falcon, the ancient supernatural beast overlooking the fire pit. Kazee jumped helmet first into the pit, ready to smash whatever was on the other side of the flames and smoke.
“Why was he even wearing his helmet? It’s an off-day,” Quinn said to himself. Does that mean he just always rams into things like the Juggernaut from X-Men? How does this man get through grocery shopping?
Quinn groaned while rubbing his temples. Sometimes these news guys just don’t get it. Speaking of things he didn’t get, a normal Jerry Richardson with a gigantic head? Do they feed him Bojangles? Maybe those berry biscuits?
“Man, I gotta ask Ron Rivera about it,” Quinn thought, wondering of the endless possibilities.