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My locker in the forest


Monday, September 22

0 - 3. This wasn't the way we all thought we'd start this season, but it was the way the cards had been dealt. Our hand has left us wanting. The good thing is that the NFL season is a marathon, not a sprint. There are still 13 games left to go. If we are to win out, we'd be 13 - 3. Not a bad record if I do say so myself. These thoughts poured through my head as I went to work on Monday morning. I'm sure there were other guys in the locker room feeling and thinking this same way. We once again reviewed the game film and corrected our mistakes. We were encouraged by the words of Coach Del Rio, reminding us to continue working hard and our results will pay off. We all left work later that afternoon, down about the season, but looking forward to the next game. Life goes on.

Because of the mental and physical stresses on one's body during the season, players need a chance to "get away." Rebekah and I headed off to our weekly church Bible study at Brad and Jamie Meester's home. It's always good to see Brad, that big, giggly fella. The smile on his face always brightens my mood. Tonight was no exception.

Tuesday, September 23

Today turned out to be a low-key day for the Zelenka family. We spent a lot of the day around the house. I did some mowing outside, on my tractor. Rebekah cleaned up inside. Nothing clears the head like some good manual labor. Dinner was even low-key. We ate subs once again. Bekah keeps telling me that one of these days, I'm going to turn into a sub sandwich. But I don't care. I just can't get enough of that delicious lunch meat. The atmosphere in the evening turned intense when the dog wrestling match began. They utilized good team work and made an easy win of me, despite my efforts. They're really getting good at using the tailwhip move. Dogs-2. Joey Z-2.

Wednesday, September 24

Wednesday morning found Chris Luzar and I sitting at breakfast discussing our day off. I told him of mine and he told me of his, acting like a car mechanic. He spent all day Tuesday working on his replica "General Lee" car. That car sure is every boy's dream. The team meeting introduced Coach Del Rio's "chopping wood" theme. He told us to keep chopping wood and doing the little things right. He told us to work hard and not worry about the record. The wins would come if we kept on chopping. No one had any idea that after practice we'd find a giant 3-foot log in our locker room with an axe. I guess "chopping wood" was meant to be taken literally. After a few swings of the axe by some players, we headed home. Rebekah and I shared dinner before I headed off to an early retire.

Thursday, September 25

The locker room smelled like a pine forest. The log's aroma had infected the area. It smelled a lot better than the old sweaty stench we were used to. The fragrance of the wood seemed to uplift the fellas as we headed out to the field, following meetings. Now we were focusing in on the Texans. They're really not a bad team. And we still had a lot of work to do before travel day. Today was also the first time we realized that we might not have "Super 8" behind the center during the game. His elbow was still pretty mangled from the turf in Indy. I thought I might get the call to start the game at QB, but they turned instead to the rookie, Byron. He's a good kid to have. It will be great to finally see what he can do on the field. I left the locker room today with wood chips in my shoes. They guys have really been hacking at the log. I spent a quiet evening at home with my wife. Not much going on this week.

Friday, September 26

I donned my customary Friday cowboy hat and work boots, just like every real man should do. (My wife has a different opinion about this, but that's another story.) After a quick clean-up day of practice and meetings, we were looking forward to game time and to getting our first win. I stopped after work and picked up some hot dogs for lunch at the new Hot Dog Spot on Monument Rd. If you're ever in the area, they sure do make a good dog. That afternoon I spent finishing up some yard work. I knew the work boots would come in handy sooner or later. Then on to our traditional Philly Connection cheese steaks. We stopped on the way back home to grab ice cream cones for the puppies. Those dogs just love their ice cream.

Saturday, September 27

I went with the trustworthy blue blazer and khaki pants for the Houston trip. I filled my gut this morning with about eight donuts before our walk-thru and a quick drive to the airport. As I got on the plane and took off, I wondered if Coach Del Rio had made arrangements to bring our log and axe with us. Nowadays, though, it's pretty hard to travel via airplane with an axe. Nevertheless, we were going to have to chop wood to get this game won.

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