HOLTZ HEARS THE NFL’S CALL, BUT HOW COME?

Hello, Mr. X? This is Lou Holtz.

Lou! Thanks for calling me back. You know this conversation must remain secret.

Of course.

We don’t want Coach Y getting suspicious.

Right.

So, Lou. You want back in the NFL.

I certainly do, Mr. X. With all my heart.

Can I ask why you left Notre Dame?

Gosh, sir, that’s tough. The kids were truly wonderful, and I pray that I led them with a strong hand and a wise heart, but in my soul there burns a passion for new horizons.

They told you to take a hike.

Pretty much, yes, sir.

Well, we’re very interested in what you could bring to our NFL team. As you know, we’ve been struggling the last few years.

Yes, sir. I’ve noticed that. And I have some ideas. May I be bold?

Be bold, Lou.

Well, you need a running back.

Tell me about it.

If I were in charge, I’d scour the country, looking for the best rusher. And when I found him, I’d go to his house and talk to his mama. And I’d eat some of her pie. And I’d tell her why our NFL team is the best in the nation, and how proud she’d be if he played there, and how her son would stay on the straight and narrow, and hardly drink at all, and–

Lou?

Yes, sir?

We don’t recruit in the NFL. We draft.

Oh . . . right! I knew that.

We also sign free agents.

Then I’d find us the best free agents. I’d convince them that our city was the best city, and playing for us would prepare them for life after football, and–

Lou?

Yes, sir?

We can’t sign anyone. We’re over our cap.

Cap?

Yes. We have a salary cap in the NFL.

Oh . . . right! I knew that.

Prime-time players

Now, Lou, with all the losing we’ve had, we’re suffering a bit of an image problem.

I noticed that, sir. And may I be bold?

Be bold, Lou.

Thank you, sir. The dang problem is, you’re not on TV enough. Heck, I never let that happen at Notre Dame. I call the network boys and say, “Fellas, we want this weekend to be a prime-time game! Yes, sir. And next week, too! And you better snap to it, or we’ll find us another network–“

Lou?

Yes, sir?

Our team doesn’t have its own network.

You don’t?

We’re part of the NFL package.

You mean . . . they can put you on TV whenever they feel like it?

Right.

And keep you off when they don’t feel like it?

You got it.

Goodness . . . that’s terrible. You poor man.

Uh, Lou? You sure you want this job?

Switching to Plan B

Sir, I know I might be a bit rusty. But I know football. And I can get your team to the top of the polls.

You mean the playoffs.

Playoffs. Right. I knew that.

Now, Lou, you know you’d be coming to a team with a losing tradition.

I have some thoughts on that, too, sir. May I be brash?

Be brash, Lou.

Your schedule is too tough. Look at this. You play San Francisco and Green Bay in back-to-back weeks. Now that’s just asking too much. At Notre Dame I like to slip in a Rutgers. Maybe a Vanderbilt. I think you need to schedule things better, take some weeks off–

Lou?

Sir?

The schedule comes from the league.

The league? Oh . . . right! I knew that.

Lou, maybe you ought to rethink this. I mean, we have real problems, like, well, Player Z.

Yes, sir, I heard.

So you know about his arrest, his booze, the four exotic dancers and the men from Colombia.

It’s a fine school, Columbia.

I meant the country.

Oh.

Lou, PLayer Z has become an embarrassment for us.

Sir, may I be blunt?

Be blunt, Lou.

I would sit that young man down, explain to him how he’s screwing up his life — pardon me, can I say screwing up?

This is the NFL.

Thank you, sir. And I would tell him, son, I’m benching you for your own good. And I won’t let you back until you attend all of your classes.

Lou?

Yes, sir?

He doesn’t go to class.

Well, that’s his problem.

He’s also suing us for $100 million.

Goodness.

Lou, I think this was a mistake–

But wait, sir! I have another idea. At the far end of the stadium, we paint a big touchdown Jesus. And we get gold helmets, and very rich benefactors–

Lou, I’ve got to go, Coach Y is calling.

Coach Y?

Yes, I’m thinking of extending his contract.

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