Monday, January 30, 2012

4th & Goal (More on Sports)

Have I ever told you about my friend D? I love D. In a totally platonic way. I paid him to be my trainer for about 3 years where he acted as part trainer/part therapist. During that time, despite the initial paid arrangement, D became a great friend.

(His name is Deqawn but we always just call him D. And he probably has an alert on his name so, Hi, D!)

D is the mildest mannered 6'4" piece of man muscle that I know. Seriously, he's super cut. It's kind of absurd. He got his seeming zero percent body fat being a vegetarian. I would try to convert him back to the dark side of In N Out and chicken wings. He would never relent. Every Christmas, because I'm not a high enough roller to tip my trainer with money, I'd make his NYC born and bred self a whole entire cheesecake to eat because I'm eeeevil. And because he liked it and I like doing nice things (shhh, don't tell anyone). And he would eat it. That's 1% body fat now, isn't it? Sucka!

When he trained, he never yelled at me. We spent most of my sessions laughing and talking and he encouraged us girls (most of his clients were women with whom berating would not have worked) firmly and gently. He wouldn't let us get away with anything either, but never yelled. Though, he'd tailor his workouts and had stories of making cocky male clients puke the first time they visited him. I rarely told him "no" or "I can't" and mostly would whine if I didn't want to do something before doing it anyway. This was our pattern. It also meant that when I did say no, he knew I meant it and he'd let up.

As mentioned, D grew up in NYC, the Bronx to be exact, across the street from Yankee stadium. He ended up in SF because he went to City College and their famed JUCO football program. He then went to Texas A&M. Because he is one of the few people I know (and I don't think this fully dawned on me 'til recently) that knows the experience of doing the whole fish out of water, elitist coastal thing to small town South, we talked a lot about that and how though we loved our experiences, the South is a really different place. We talked endlessly about football, where I appreciated his perspective as a player, something I obviously don't have insight into. How he was treated as a player by the college coaches and the fans, etc. I have to admit a little wide eyed wonder when I first met D, former captain at A&M, and that I likely initially dismissed his brain, but that quickly faded as we became friends and I began to appreciate his opinion and his intellect. He is smart.

We talked a lot about the sort of issues that dovetail on my comments yesterday on player concerns. For example: D is a city kid through and through. With a degree from TAMU in agricultural administration.  How did that university do right by him doing that? We discussed contracts and recruiting and even though he doesn't watch much football now that he doesn't play, he was always up on what LSU was doing. Our conversations were pretty in depth and as painful as our hour together could be physically, we always had fun.

I go into this whole thing about D because while at City College, and beyond, he was the subject of a documentary. It's available on iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix. After a reminder email from him that I'm a bad friend for not having watched it yet, I finally did. And now I'm telling you, you should absolutely check it out. It's called 4th and Goal. Find out all about it here.

From a strictly critical standpoint: I thought it was fairly well done with interesting insight into the hard road to the NFL. It was absolutely bittersweet as you see the toll the game takes the higher the skill level gets. Not necessarily in ability but in it changing from fun to business. As with most things that give insight into a subject, I left it a little sad.

From a "my friend is the subject of this movie" standpoint: I had to laugh at how hard he comes across because he's just so completely not. And how young he was then. Of all the players that were subjects of the film, D says some really interesting and insightful things. He told me awhile ago, before he jetted off to get his masters in international studies in a program in Thailand for 2 years, abandoning me to my own devices and no woodchoppers in a park once a week, that he thought they'd make him out to be the asshole. I don't think that was the case. He came across as really intelligent, well spoken, and thoughtful about the whole process and the difficulties of his journey. He calls out the system on its problems in a really aware way. Even having had discussions with him on the topic before, I was surprised at his outspokenness in the film.

So: I'm super proud of my smart, funny, kind friend and you should watch the documentary he's the subject of for his insight. Especially those of you jonesing for football with the 7 month drought us college fanatics are facing.

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