Monday, October 21, 2002
We returned from Baltimore late Sunday night with the feeling we were kicked in the stomach. I prayed as I got off the plane that this feeling would leave me and the rest of the guys by the morning. It didn't. I came to work on Monday salty and ready to leave the Ravens game in the past. I could tell as I went about my lift, run and meetings that the rest of the troops had the same feelings I did. We were anxious to get in the next fight to prove not only to our fans but also to ourselves that we were better than what we had shown in Baltimore. The team meeting on Monday (which after a loss can be very depressing) was rather upbeat. Coach Coughlin told us to stay the course and that we had fought hard, yet, had nothing to show for it. He told us as we broke the meeting that we need to get back to work and have a good week of practice; the Texans were coming to town. The Texans were coming to town but the fair was already there. Monday night seemed like the perfect time to join in the fun. Chris and Kasey Hanson, along with my wife Rebekah, headed off to ride the rides. I went to look at the livestock. Someday I am going to have a cow in the fair.
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
I woke up early and refreshed. Walking my dogs in the early morning light, it became apparent what I need to accomplish today. I need to get a jump on the competition. I called Hanson and asked if he wanted to go watch film. He agreed and we met at Starbucks for that wonderful elixir. As we watched film and discussed the future of the kicking game, with the possible departure of Hayden Epstein, we knew there was only one option for the two of us. We need to be perfect and be a weapon that would strike fear in the hearts of the opposition. I spent that afternoon with my wife Rebekah. We went to the mall and did some needed shopping, so once again I found myself carrying bags and following my wife. That evening I wrestled and played with my dogs Beau and Annie. I won.
Wednesday, October 23, 2002
"Bloody Wednesday" Texans week. When I got to work I noticed a change of attitude in the locker room. The troops were ready to have some fun and get back to work. I guess the day off was something we really needed. The change was apparent when, in the weight room, one of the fellas decided to put the artist formally known as Prince on. Little Red Corvette became the song for the day. The team began to show signs of life again. We took to the practice field looking to improve. For me this meant I needed to focus on the returns and looks the Texans would be giving me this weekend. I also knew Texans kick-returner Jermaine Lewis was one of the best and that we needed to stop him. Wednesday also meant the first day for our new kicker Tim Seder. I first met him in the locker room early in the morning. I shook his hand and told him I was the butt he would be looking at from now on. We went and ate breakfast together in the cafeteria and tried to get acquainted. I knew we would have to get comfortable with each other quickly for the new operation to click. Practice that day proved that the time together at breakfast was well spent. Tim walked off the field nine for nine. Needless to say, this left the coaches and the players feeling good about the kicking change.
Thursday, October 24, 2002
This was our rainy day at practice. It started off sunny and hot but ended in a downpour. I made a very bad move Thursday. I wore my long pants to practice. They were great at the beginning; I was toasty warm and breaking a good sweat. But by the end of practice those pants must have weighed 10 pounds. I felt like I was carrying around a sack of potatoes. Even though I wore pants and regretted it, some of the men that wore shorts did not like the added weight the rain brought them. One of the boys decided to lose the shorts for a few plays and just go with the tights that he had on underneath. This idea did not last too long. Before any of us knew it, the shorts were back on. It felt, as we went through practice and meetings, that we were preparing for the Texans the way coach Coughlin wanted us to. The kicking game continued to improve on Thursday. I do not think we missed any kicks on Thursday, either.
Friday, October 25, 2002
The polish day can also be called cowboy hat day. I have this cowboy hat that I wear both to and from practice. It helps me get focused. I really don't know why it helps me focus, but it does. As I drove into work wearing my cowboy hat, I thought about the task at hand, the Texans. I knew the only way we were going to pack up a win was to have a great day of practice. We were out on the field early and began our work. My legs felt extra strong from Thursday's rain and the heavy pants. If I was ever going to challenge Jimmy Smith and Freddy T. to a race, today would be the day. The race didn't happen. They said they didn't want to race this close to game time. I think they were just scared of my speed. Practice went smoothly and I think the team knew just how important Sunday's game was going to be. Meester and I closed the day with a patty melt and a grilled cheese, respectively.
Saturday, October 26, 2002
This week I had to say goodbye to Hayden, my rookie kicker, and no day did I miss him more than Saturday. Saturday was his day to bring in the breakfast sandwiches. No more Hayden, no more sandwiches? So I thought. Without Hayden, the responsibility fell on the next youngest specialist, Hanson. He did a great job with his duties. The sandwich was just what I needed to get through the meeting and walk-through. Leaving Saturday afternoon, I felt like the team was ready to fight and win. Saturday nights are some of the best. After my traditional sushi dinner, Rebekah takes me to the hotel. After church and some last-minute meetings, it's time to shut it down for the night. My roommate for home games is Brad Meester. He is a great guy but he has this screaming problem. At about three a.m., from a dead sleep, he sits up and screams at the top of his lungs, "Beat the Texans," and then goes right back to sleep. This happens every week, only the name changes, depending on who we are playing. I guess he's ready to play.
Sunday, October 27, 2002
I woke up early again, took my shower and headed off to breakfast. After a cup of hot coffee, I came back to the room to watch my hunting and fishing shows and wait for the pregame meal, after which I would head to the game. The sun was shining and I could tell by the feeling in the air that today was going to be a big day for the Jags. I wish it had been.