In the interest of letting my creativeness run without bounds, I present my recent interview with an NFL football. We got together over lunch at a recent vegetarian place near Redskins headquarters in Ashburn, Va.
HHC: So, give me the basics about yourself and your life story.
FB: Well, I started out as the skin on a cow in rural Ohio. From there, we got shipped to Wilson's football factory in Ada, Ohio, and, well, here I am.
HHC: That's a pretty short answer to something that could go in depth - we're talking about post-death experiences, the afterlife, reincarnation and all of that.
FB: It really wasn't that big of a deal. The brain was more concerned about it than I was - and the brain of the cow doesn't have that much depth to it, so it thought it was just getting a treat before it realized it was a death trap. For the rest of us, though, we just kind of went with it.
HHC: What happened after all of you were separated?
FB: That's really when the rough part began - for us, anyway. I mean, have you ever felt a cow's skin? It doesn't naturally have all these dimples, you know?
FB: It was more scary than anything. It sure didn't hurt - all the nerve endings were incapacitated by then anyway. We thought we were headed for the Coach handbag line, and that was really what scared us.
HHC: What happened to the rest of your, um...
FB: Colleagues? Don't know. I heard that the tenderloin ended up at a dog food factory. That's a shame - he was a great guy.
HHC: He? I thought you were part of a female cow.
FB: Dude, skin and meat and bones, we don't have a sex. Referring to he and him just makes life a lot easier on all of us. Plus, it personalizes things. The tenderloin was a good friend, you know, not just another piece of meat.
HHC: Moving on. Tell me what your second life has been like as a football.
FB: It's not nearly as glamorous as you might think. We got sewn together with our with our new colleagues, the stitches and laces and got branded with an NFL logo and Tags' [soon-to-be-former commissioner Paul Tagliabue] Hancock. After that, it's a little blurry; all I remember is that it got really dark and we got jostled around quite a bit.
HHC: That must have been your flight to Northern Virginia.
FB: Right. We actually flew from Indianapolis into Dulles.
HHC: How did you know it was Indianapolis?
FB: We were in the cargo hold with a bunch of local yokels who kept stammering on about Kelvin Sampson and Jermaine O'Neal. Folks in Cincy don't care about them.
HHC: Got ya. So once you arrived at Dulles, what happened?
FB: More darkness and more jostling, but it was thankfully a lot shorter. We were in a box and the box wasn't opened until we arrived at Redskin Park. When someone finally opened the lid, we were afraid we'd landed in Norman [Okla.], but then we remembered we were NFL balls. Some of us got separated, but I was lucky because my best friends were still with me.
HHC: Best friends? Were you from the same cow?
FB: One of them was. But I can guarantee you - if you spend a two-hour flight smooshed up against someone you don't know, you'll be damn good buddies by the time you disembark.
HHC: Fair enough. When did you finally get on the field?
FB: The first day of training camp. My God, was it hot. We kept getting all wet from these guys' sweat. It was kind of disgusting, actually. One of my good friends was on the ball for a snap when a defensive tackle let go of a huge loogey - part of it actually splattered him. And then you have to deal with all the residual stickiness from those [expletive] gloves that all the players wear.
HHC: Still, you'd finally made it to training camp. You must have felt like you'd finally made it to the big time, no?
FB: Let me tell you about my first practice, in order: Used to get defensive linemen to move on the ball, not the sound; tossed in a bag; pulled out and used by the longsnapper to practice his snaps; handoff to Rock Cartwright; dropped by Ataveus Cash; complete to Taylor Jacobs; handoff to Tyler Lumsden; put back in bag.
HHC: You're right, those guys are mostly fringe players or role players.
FB: Yeah, one of those guys who I thought was a good friend became Clinton Portis' favorite ball. Now he doesn't talk to us anymore - he thinks he's too good for us, lucky bastard. He's no different than the rest of us. It's just that Portis thinks he is.
HHC: I had no idea there was that much bitterness among footballs.
FB: Oh, definitely. He got his comeuppance though. Portis fumbled once, and was so pissed he punted the dude into a nearby creek, where he was promptly swallowed by a northern snakehead.
HHC: Isn't that a little harsh, celebrating the demise of someone who was once your friend?
FB: We got a code we live by, you know. "Skin, through thick and thin."
HHC: A code among footballs? Come on.
FB: You're part of the family now, too. The secret's out. And just to prove it, if you publish any of the following, a similar fate will befall you. [several minutes of off-the-record comments]
HHC: I'd like to live, thanks.
FB: Your lips and fingers are in on this too, you know.
HHC: Consider me warned. But you'd say your overall experience at camp has been positive?
FB: No doubt. I mean, one of my other good friends wound up in the kicker's bag. It was sail through air, GUH! Sail through air more, thud. All I've had to put up with was a harmless five-foot fall.
HHC: Anything else about you that you think our readers would want to know?
FB: Just like the players and the coaches and the referees, we come from all walks of life. Some of us are from cows in Ohio, some from Pennsylvania, some from Indiana. And they were some courageous cows that gave themselves so Derrick Frost would have something to kick around on Sundays. And don't forget the code, either. We're watching you.
HHC: Thanks for your time.