Monday, November 16, 2009

Dear Peter King,

Dear Peter King:

Today on Twitter, you announced that one of your Tweeps would have the privilege to write 500 words in your upcoming column. Here is a sample of the story you would get:

One Sunday evening at the impressionable age of 9, I stumbled across a football game. I watched in awe as a guy named Joe Montana threw the ball to someone named John Taylor and everyone celebrated as a team called the 49ers (apparently named after the California Gold Rush of 1849) won something called the Super Bowl.

I was hooked! This Joe Cool became a poster on my wall from that moment until I graduated high school from a rural town called Benton City, WA (pop. 2,000). I became fixated with sports, sneakily watching games on my tiny black-and-white television as my mom didn't like catching me watching football on Sundays in our religious household.

While enrolled at Brigham Young University, Super Bowl winning coach Brian Billick came to talk to the communications department he had graduated from twenty years earlier before becoming a national icon. He spoke of his roots and how he became who he was.

That moment, I learned that I had a shot at becoming an intern with the NFL to fulfill a lifelong dream of working in professional sports. I changed my major to public relations and left my cushy college job to spent the next two years using my Friday nights writing articles on women's soccer with hope of building a resume worthy of the Baltimore Ravens.

Two years later, the moment for applying came to pass as I sent my resume into the Ravens. I waited anxiously. Eventually, the Ravens called for an interview. I was sure that they could feel my nervous excitement pushing through the cell phone. Weeks later, they called. I was headed to training camp 2003 in Owings Mills, Maryland.

I remember the first time Brian Billick called for my boss, Kevin Byrne. Coach Billick was boarding a plane and wanted to chat before takeoff. I was nervous, and I couldn't find Mr. Byrne anywhere. I ran all over the building with no luck. Minutes later, I saw Kevin at his desk and informed him that Coach Billick had called, and he frowned at me and told me he was in the men's room and the next time to go find him in the bathroom because he couldn't return the call until coach landed. I learned that in the NFL, everything is important.

I remember answering the phone and Joe Browne, one of the league's senior officials was asking me if Kevin was there, and I said "Yeah". He told me that I should answer questions by saying "Yes" and not "Yeah". I learned that in the NFL, old school manners are important.

I remember defensive coordinator Mike Nolan's wife would bring in cookies every Tuesday to all the staff who worked long hours and rarely saw their families during the season. I learned that in the NFL, family is important.

I remember going in the locker room after practice one evening and seeing Pro Bowl LB Adalius Thomas playing chess with a young boy as part of his community service. I learned in the NFL, service is important.

I remember Jamal Lewis breaking the then-NFL single rushing game record with 295 yards against the Browns and tossing his final touchdown into the stands. Later that week, the fan that caught the football came to the facility, met Jamal, and had the football signed! In the NFL, players aren't too important.

I remember undrafted DT Kelly Gregg getting a five-year lucrative contract extension, the first guaranteed money of his career. I asked him if he would finally replace his used Pontiac Grand Prix he drove to practice every day. He said, "Nah, it still runs fine". In the NFL, money isn't always important.

Finally, I learned that even after my nine-month ride as a PR intern was over, I still mattered. Three years later, I returned to watch a game as the late-Steve McNair defeated the pre-prison Michael Vick in a November game in 2006 as the Ravens finished the season 13-3. I was able to visit the locker room after the game (as if I still I still worked for the team and say hi to Todd Heap, Ed Reed, and Terrell Suggs) and as I was leaving Kevin Byrne, my former boss and forever friend) said "We won, feel free to come back anytime. You're good luck"

In the NFL, every fan is important.