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Gorilla off the back


Monday, October 6th

Monday morning I got out of bed 500lbs lighter. I no longer reeked of bananas or of gorilla chow. That big smelly 5001b gorilla that wore the ballerina outfit was finally gone from my shoulders. The Jags had victory number one. Feeling like a guy on a first date, I headed into the stadium for our first victory Monday of the season. Giddy and excited, I rolled my windows down and let my few remaining hairs blow in the wind. The only requirements that the players have on the glorious victory Monday are to lift weights and watch the game film. Of course if you are injured, you have all of that treatment to put your body through. Lucky for me, I am durable like a railroad tie. I socialized with some of the fellas like Seth Marler, Brad Meester, and Marques Ogden. They were all smiles just like a Price is Right contestant. I felt like Bob Barker as they all joked, laughed and told stories from the game. There is no better feeling than a win.

After the lift I headed home for some quality time with my lovely wife, Rebekah. We did not have much on our plate. Just some goofing off and some errand running before our weekly Bible study at the Meester & Following the congratulations from our good friends at Bible study for a game well-fought we headed home for a good night's rest.

Tuesday, October 7th

Tuesday morning found me in the kitchen looking out on the dogs that were chasing the golfers along the fence. I thought to myself as they galloped and barked, "I am sure glad that I have a fence." I drank my coffee that morning in my Notre Dame super-sized mug that I got as a Christmas gift from my little brother. He & attended ND and is now an athletic director in Tampa. Nothing like a BIG cup of coffee. I had a busy day ahead of me and needed the caffeine. I busied myself around the house until it was time to appear for the United Way's Home Town Huddle. Myself and others from the team, including the Deuce and James Trapp, got a chance to spend some time with children from different areas in Jacksonville. It was a great time as we played games and signed autographs.

Right after the appearance the Deuce and I met our wives at JJ and Jill Stokes' house for our second Bible study for the week. I can use all of the Bible study that I can get. This one was with the guys from the team and lucky for me, it was a Potluck dinner. I was feeling lucky. I just knew there was going to be something good. I wasn't disappointed. Dinner was great, and so was the Bible study, but the highlight of the night was Kasey Hanson's pound cake. I think that the Deuce and I might have gobbled it all down if we weren't so full from dinner.

When Rebekah and I got home, the dogs were ready to rumble but my stomach was too full to wrestle. The match was postponed a night. Lucky for me, my wife is so in tune with all of the important dates in my life and reminded me to call my parents before I went to bed to wish them a happy anniversary. Nothing beats a good wife.

Wednesday, October 8th

My Wednesday began as they all do when my alarm clock turned over at 5:15am. I was up and off to work after I kissed my dog and patted my wife goodbye, I sometimes get confused that early in the morning. Wednesday was a big day in the office. We needed to completely put off to see Chris. I had finally talked to him and was planning on bringing him dinner in the win over the Chargers behind us. That game was over and another was just around the comer. There is no real chance to relax in the NFL. You are always getting ready for the next big thing. The next big thing on our menu was dolphin. The guys in the locker room were upbeat as we started our preparations for Miami. They are a good team and from the looks of things, as we went through meetings and film study, we had lots of work to do before Sunday.

The team had a good crisp day on the practice fields. The old guys like Kyle Brady and James Trapp were moving around like they were young again and the young guys like Rasheen Mathis and Byron were picking things up like seasoned veterans. If the first day of preparation was any indication of what was ahead, this was going to be a good week.

Thursday, October 9th

I woke up to an empty bed on Thursday morning. My bride had gone down the day before to Ocala to spend some time with her parents, while they were on vacation. I got up and planned to leave for work early. I wanted to stop and get some coffee, but my plans were thwarted by my dogs who decided to have an early morning wrestling match. There was no fooling around. In a matter of seconds they had achieved victory. I need some time to get loose in the morning. Dogs-4, Joey Z-2.

Arriving at work, trying to put the defeat behind me, I dove into some film. I then continued the preparation with some positional and offensive meetings. As I exited from my meetings, I was smacked in the face with some awful news. It seemed as the team was in the meetings, my good buddy and punter had an accident. Not knowing exactly what was going on I became like Matlock. I scoured the locker room for the pieces of the puzzle. I questioned the team like a cop. I put the shake down on a few of the guys and made them sing like birds. Afterwards, I had my answers. It seemed that while the team was in meetings the young Chris Hanson had himself a meeting with the axe. The axe sliced into his leg and he was rushed to the hospital. That was about all I had to go on as I headed out to my first practice in three years without my punter. The rest of the day at the stadium was pretty much a blur as most of my thoughts were on what was happening to Chris. I left the stadium that night only knowing that the Deuce was in the hospital and had surgery on his leg.

I sped home and grabbed my wife who had just returned from her mini-vacation. We were off to see Chris. I had finally talked to him and was planning on bringing him dinner in the hospital. When we got to the hospital, just the sight of his face and knowing that he was going to be all right finally diffused the situation. It was then that the incident became a reality, though. It was also then that I learned just how long I was to be without my punter. It was going to be tough to play without him for a while.

Friday, October 10th

When I got to work on Friday morning, it was weird to see the Deuce's locker and him not sitting in it. For a second I thought that he might be late but then I remembered what had happened. I went off to grab some breakfast before meetings. All of the guys were asking me about the Deuce. They all wanted to know how he was doing both physically and mentally. It was right after breakfast that I met Mark Royals Mr. Royals was to be Deuce's replacement. The only thing I knew about Mark was that he has been punting since before Seth Matter was born, 15 years in the NFL. I went to some meetings and headed out to practice early. Mark and I both wanted to begin to get used to each other.

Practice on Friday was up-beat. Although the thoughts of the team were with Hanson in the hospital, we all knew that he would want us to win. The team had put another adverse situation behind them and was once again focusing on Sunday's game. "The show must go on" as they say.

I left practice and met Rebekah for lunch in San Marco before we went to visit with the Deuce. He and I laughed and talked about the day's practice and events. His spirits had greatly improved since the night before. It was nice to see him smiling again.

Rebekah and I ate our customary cheese steaks for dinner before settling down in front of the television for a night of acting like boneless chicken.

Saturday October 11th

The team once again ate the Saturday morning doughnuts, went to meetings and headed off for the last walk-through. The fellas were looking ready for the Fins. Eager and excited, we were dismissed for the day. As I left the locker room, I noticed Brad Meester grabbing a doughnut for the road and decided that no one should eat a sprinkle doughnut alone and picked one up for myself

That afternoon I mentally prepared for the game. I took a quick nap and played with my pups, before Rebekah and I headed off for the Sushi bar and hotel. I figured, sushi Saturday night-California roll, sushi Sunday for lunch-Dolphin roll I knew the rest of the team would join me for a bite.

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