I am carrying my play book. I am carrying my helmet. I walk onto the field and motion at the ball boy.
“Gimme one,” I say.
I throw a few practice passes. Little things, maybe five or 10 yards. The coaches look me over and shrug.
“He’s as good as anyone else we got,” they say.
This is the season of the wounded quarterback. Every week we lose another half a dozen. In the first weeks we lost the Kosars and the Moons. Then we lost the Danielsons and the Hipples. Now we are down to the Peases and Hilgers and Strocks, and this week some of them are sure to go. I can sense this. I can foresee this. I know my responsibilities.
I have come for a tryout.
“Can you roll to your left?” the coaches ask.
“Sure,” I say.
I get down on the ground and roll to my left.
“Can you roll to your right?”
I roll the opposite direction.
“Can you handle a snap?”
I snap my fingers.
“Can you scramble?”
“I make a nice omelet.”
“Can you go deep?”
“Depends on the pool.”
I am taken to an office. I am handed a contract. I sign on the line and I become an NFL quarterback.
“I would like a car,” I say.
“No problem,” they say.
“And a shaving cream commercial.”
“The game’s at 1 p.m.? Wake me up at 10.”
I smile and leave the office. I toss the ball and whistle a happy tune. It is the year of the wounded quarterback.
I am only doing my part.
And now, this week’s picks. . . .
* GIANTS 30, LIONS 3: It would be bad enough playing with a Rusty quarterback. It would be bad enough playing in the Meadowlands. But did Philly have to beat the Giants on TV Monday night and make them mad and mean?
* MINNESOTA 28, GREEN BAY 10: Sorry, Packers. You won last week. Only one a month for you guys.
* MIAMI 24, SAN DIEGO 7: The Dolphins have a great defense. Wait a minute. Did we say defense?
* CHICAGO 27, DALLAS 12: Mike Ditka always says “I respect Tom Landry very much. He taught me to be a coach.” Know what I think? I think Ditka would like to see Landry’s head under his shoe. That’s what I think.
* SEATTLE 17, NEW ORLEANS 16: Neither of these dome teams has seen the outdoors in years.
* INDIANAPOLIS 21, TAMPA BAY 20: It’s not fair to keep asking us to pick these Tampa Bay games. I mean, I can never remember if they’re half-decent, bad, or truly awful.
* PHILADELPHIA 13, CLEVELAND 6: The Browns are disqualified for trying to kidnap Randall Cunningham.
* WASHINGTON 30, PHOENIX 20: I’m sorry. We just can’t have a team from Arizona winning the NFC East. No. We can’t. Sorry.
* CINCINNATI 28, NEW ENGLAND 14: Did you see Doug Flutie bomb last week? I’m telling you, the guy has done more with one 60- yard college pass than any man on earth.
* PITTSBURGH 14, HOUSTON 10: Who’s quarterbacking the Oilers now? Bum Phillips?
* LA RAIDERS 12, KANSAS CITY 7: The Chiefs get their only touchdown when Bo Jackson, just back from baseball, catches a long pass near the wall, then throws it back to the infield.
* LA RAMS 35, SAN FRANCISCO 28: OK, I get it. The Dodgers play the A’s, the Rams play the 49ers. This is what, like, all- California week, right?
* DENVER 28, ATLANTA 10: Is every fan in Atlanta just counting the minutes until basketball season?
* (MONDAY NIGHT) BUFFALO 30, NY JETS 20: This time, the battle for New York isn’t between the Jets and the Giants.
* RECORD LAST WEEK: 10-4.
* RECORD THIS SEASON: 52-31-1.
* BEST PICK LAST WEEK: LA Rams 24, Atlanta 7 (Rams won, 33-0).
* WORST PICK LAST WEEK: NY Giants 21, Philadelphia 17 (Eagles won, 24-13).