Monday, September 8
I awoke early Monday morning after only sleeping a few short hours. The combination of the heartbreaking loss and wanting to make sure my wife returned home safe made for a very late night. After rousing my two dogs awake quietly, as to not wake Rebekah, we headed downstairs. I should have been hungry, but losing a game in such a fashion makes one's appetite less than a run-way model. All I could stomach was some coffee. I turned on the coffee maker and sent my pups outside. I sat down at the kitchen table, my mind still groggy, and opened up the latest edition of the Jacksonville Times-Union. I normally do not like to read the paper during the season, but something inside just had to see what was being said. I quickly scanned the sports pages. The articles only indicated that today was going to be a tough day at work.
I kissed my wife goodbye and headed off about mid-morning. At this time of day it is nice not to have traffic to fight. I arrived at the locker room expecting it to be more quiet than a librarian's convention. My expectations were correct. It seemed as if everyone was still reeling about the previous day's events. I changed my clothes and headed off to the weight room, wearing my funky, lime green Reeboks. I wore those shoes to make the fellas smile. It is early in the season. We played with heart, yet still came up short. I thought the shoes just might perk the troops up. Following the lift was our team meeting. Coach Del Rio's words were those of encouragement. He told us to continue to work on our technique, play with courage and keep doing the little things right. He then reminded us of the team's new "24-hour rule". Win or lose, we are only allowed to think about that game for one day. Unfortunately, we had a few hours of our day left. The good thing was that we had the excitement of our upcoming home opener! Leaving work later, I could tell the team's attitude was looking up and to the future.
Tuesday, September 9
Tuesday morning I woke up my sleeping beauty with a surprise breakfast in bed. I make one mean bowl of Golden Grahams. I had a busy off day ahead of me. I had a couple of public appearances on the table. Mid-morning, Chris Hanson and I visited a wonderful assisted living home. The highlight of our visit was a lovely older lady playing "Happy Birthday" on the piano. Although it was no one in the room's birthday, she played the heck out of that keyboard. Later in the day, I donned my Jaguar #88 jersey. I was accompanied by David Garrard, the Deuce and Jaxson De Ville to kick off the Jaguars Playbook. The Playbook is the brain child of Mrs. Weaver. It is a great effort to motivate kids to read. Readin' is good. After a long day of knowing what the night would entail. The dogs were looking to avenge their loss from last week. They used teamwork well, yet it was not enough. Joe Z-2. Dogs-0.
Thursday, September 11
Thursday morning came quickly. My body was either sore from Wednesday's practice or from the dog wrestling. I couldn't be too sure. When I got to work, the first person I saw was Hedgehog George, our young intern equipment manager. George informed me of the day's schedule. We were joking around when all of a sudden, the idea hit me. We needed a real hedgehog. The Jags needed a rally hedgehog, like the rally monkey one of the pro baseball teams has. After getting my idea cleared by head equipment manager, Drew Hampton, and seconded by assistant manager, the hockey crazed Jim Sorenson, the hedgehog fund was established. We needed to raise money. These things don't grow on hedges, ya know? We practiced hard, polished up our game plans, getting ready for the Bills. I left work and raced home. Rebekah was making my favorite pork chops for dinner. We ate dinner in the company of one Luzilla. At the end of a delicious meal and a stimulating dinner conversation, my mind and body were ready for bed.
Friday, September 12
Sorenson greeted me at work first thing Friday morning. He and another equipment manager, Matt Douglas, informed me that the fund for our hedgehog had taken off We were only a few dollars shy of our goal. That day we had more meetings and our walk-thru. In between the two, I petitioned the guys to chip in for the hedgehog. We achieved our goal thanks to the generosity of "Big Baby" Marcus Stroud. The hedgehog was finally going to be a reality. I drove home and for those 20 minutes all I could do was think of names. I was leaning towards either Joe, Joey or Little Z for the new guy. Friday is a good day to focus in on the upcoming game. What better way to focus than by processing some meat. I sliced, seasoned and began curing some beef jerkey. As I diligently worked, I wondered, "Do hedgehogs like jerkey?" '
Saturday, September 13
The day before the game is a tough one. One's mind and body get excited with the anticipation of game time. The morning's walk-thru proved that the whole team was feeling this way. That, or they were just on sugar highs from all the donuts that were eaten. We waxed our game plans like a shiny new `66 GTO. We had to make sure everything was perfect for the big show on Sunday. This morning was also the unveiling of the new equipment room mascot, the hedgehog. To my dismay, we came to the conclusion that the name for our new friend should be George, Jr. I was amazed upon meeting of Jr. I thought hedgehogs were a lot bigger in person. After I got home, I spent the afternoon preparing myself, totally, for tomorrow, curled up on my chair, covered by my "dog blanket." Later on, I put on my lucky Indians' baseball hat. (I've worn this particular hat for every game since high school.) Bek and I enjoyed our traditional home game sushi dinner and Smoothie King smoothies. She dropped me off at the hotel. I knew that after a good night's rest, the team and I would be ready for the Bills.