This is a day in the life of Lomas Brown, a day he woke up in Florida, went to bed in Detroit, and hit the mother lode somewhere in between.
I am now a pro. I am now a . . . millionaire.
It began with a telephone call Friday morning. “Looks good,” said his agent, who had been trying to negotiate a deal for weeks. “Be prepared to go.”
Lomas finished his eggs and grits and grapefruit juice, put the dishes in the sink, and started packing. Strictly speaking, he had no job at that point. No income. He was where he had been for all of his 22 years, southern Florida, one of four children of a Miami construction worker.
He called a few friends. “Gonna be the day today, I think,” he said. Then he hung up, dressed himself in a black cotton jacket and slacks, a white shirt, a brown tie and tan shoes, and waited for his agent to call back. Sign on the dotted line By 3 p.m., Lomas was on a plane. He flipped through a football magazine. On a page that outlined the Detroit Lions’ prospects this season, he saw his own name staring back at him.
“Offensive lineman, 6-4, 282 . . . first round pick . . . big, strong . .
. good selection. . . .”
Lomas got a kick out of that.
His agent met him at the Detroit airport. They waited for the luggage, but it never arrived. “Great,” Lomas mumbled. They left without it.
Out at the Pontiac Silverdome, the Lions were starting their first pre-season game against the Buffalo Bills. Lomas was listed on the roster, even though he hadn’t spent a day in training camp. If all went according to plan, he would be introduced to his new teammates, the 45,000 fans and a Detroit TV audience before the night was over.
By 9 p.m. the involved parties were in the private suite of Russ Thomas, the Lions’ general manager. A stack of contracts was brought in. Final terms: four years, $1.7 million.
Lomas did not bother to read them. He took the pen, and as he would later put it, “signed every one of those suckers as fast as I could.”
I am a now a pro. I am now a . . . millionaire.
He was whisked into a mini-press conference during halftime. He answered a few questions. He posed for photographs, clasping hands with Thomas and freezing a smile on his face.
“I’m really happy you’re here,” Thomas said, looking out at the photographers.
“Me, too,” Lomas said, doing the same.
The bulbs flashed. The cameras clicked.
“This is a club that can be really good.”
“Right . . . right.”
More flashes. More clicks. More smiles.
“We’ve got some good people here, you know.”
Click, flash, flash, click.
“Do good here, Lomas, you can be set for life.” Money first, football second Coaches and PR men would have you believe a rookie’s first thoughts are of pads and tackles and yardage. But for most guys like Lomas — who already has a 14 month-old daughter to feed — it’s first about money and success.
So as he walked through the stadium tunnel, the new signee slid on his sunglasses and slowed to a confident pace as he reached the field.
The game was in the fourth quarter. The crowd noise swirled all around. Several of the Lions looked over at the large man in the black jacket, and recognizing him, began to yell.
“Lomas!” “All right!” “Yo, Lo!”
“Fel-lahs!” he roared. “Yesss! Yesss!”
He slapped hands, and gave a hug to fullback James Jones, a former college teammate.
“I’m in your league now, man!” Lomas hollered. “I’m in your league with my paycheck!”
A timeout was called. The introduction. A team publicist led him by the arm.
“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN . . . ” The voice was booming. A face appeared on the scoreboard, the fans broke into applause, and Lomas Brown sauntered out to the middle of the field and waved.
His past had dissolved like sugar in a glass of hot water. He was a Detroit Lion now. A day that began with eggs and grits and grapefruit juice in Miami was climaxing in front of 45,000 people on a football field in Pontiac.
In such time spans can a life turn.
I am now a pro. I am now a . . .millionaire.
Lomas rejoined his new teammates within the womb of the sideline. The game
continued. For the next 20 minutes, he pretty much just stood there and watched, smiling, though not at anything in particular.
A veteran lineman wandered over to greet him.
“You get what you wanted, man?” he asked, and Lomas said he had.