Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Just outside Des Moines, IA
On Friday of that week, I summoned all the Rebels players and staff for a meeting. My exact words weren't recorded, but I said something like this: "By now many of you have heard or even read the most recent Sports Illustrated. The cover article, as you know, makes a claim that Rebels owner Jeffrey Davis has hand-chosen you to be members of this team because you are all Southern natives who have graduated from Southern colleges."
"This undeniable claim," and there I paused to allow the words to sink in, "will likely cause a media frenzy, a flurry of questions unrelated to football, and quite possibly an ownership battle at the end of the season. There will be much to distract you if you let it.
"Now, some of you will be outraged by this revelation. Others won't care. Others may even be proud to be an all-Southern squad. From this point on, however, discussion of this reality is forbidden. Any player attempting to speak in support or opposition to what is an unchangeable reality at this time can expect his pay to be docked down to minimum. Fines and suspensions will follow that. Don't push me. This is not an issue for discussion. If, at the end of this season, you believe a grievance needs to be addressed, I will welcome you to come into my office and discuss it. But not until the offseason. Until then, you are players bound together by contract and by the will and ability to win.
"It is also not an issue for discussion, however, because I did...NOT...pursue you players or you coaches because of your Southern heritage. As General Manager, I did...NOT...settle for you because you're from the South. I sought out you, Daryl Smith, because I believe you are the best Sam backer in the NFL. I sought out you, John Abraham, because I believe you are the best defensive end in football, except maybe for Charles Grant over there. When we drafted you, Spencer Knowles, it was because we believed you would be a superstar in this league. When we traded for you, C.J. Atkins, it was because we believed you would be an all-star middle linebacker, one every bit worthy of a top 5 pick.
You all have been assembled by your owner because you are Southerners. You have been assembled by your general manager because you are, in my opinion, one of the most talented teams of players and coaches ever assembled on an NFL playing field. There is nothing, and no one, that should stand in your way of winning a SuperBowl title this year.
Your opponents will ridicule you this season for being a freak squad. Listen to me now. The best way to shut them up, is to hoist the silver Lombardi trophy. If you refuse to be distracted by your owner's shennanigans, that is what you will be doing in January."
A question arose from newcomer Ahmad Carroll: "Why did you participate in this half-baked strategy? Why did you..."
As he struggled to put words to it, I answered him with a question of my own: "If commissioner Tagliabue suddenly went off his rocker and required all cleats be fitted with pink shoelaces to support breast cancer research, would that be...crazy?" The team nodded. "A half-baked idea?" The team nodded again. "But would you all suddenly stop playing football, break your contracts, and step away from your chance this year of winning a SuperBowl? No, you'd go along with the nutcase in charge if that's what it took to play this game. I think you can see the point of my analogy."
From that day on, until our season was over, no player spoke of the all-Southerner thing. Not to each other. Not to the media. The players instituted a Denver offensive line-like gag rule. On the field, they determined that any team that wanted to make a fuss would simply have to be sent home crying while the Rebels went on to victory.
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.