Hi Cryselle -- How about this scene? Manny Hartford reminded him more of a basketball coach, slim and slick. A political animal. So different from Jamal’s coach at SCU. Still, he liked the guy okay.Hartford nodded. “Yes. Go in for Shields.”“In, sir?”“Yeah. At center. The position you play, right?” He gave Jamal a tight smile.Well, shit, talk about ass sex with no lube. They hadn’t given him any training with the first string and now they were throwing him in the deep end. He pulled his shoulder blades together. Okay, fuck. Show ’em why you were a first-round draft pick.Jamal trotted out to midfield. Ray Shields jogged toward him, and Jamal smiled inside his helmet, but the big man ran past like he wasn’t there. No attaboys from that department.Jamal looked at the assembled line. Don’t fuck it up. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly as he approached the men waiting for him on the field. The guards, especially Brian “Boogaloo” Johnson, almost made him feel small. At about three fifty, Boogaloo outweighed Jamal by fifty pounds. Glad he’s on my side.Jamal nodded. Be cool. “Gentlemen.”One of the tackles, Adolphus Winston, stuck out a hand and gave Jamal a low five. Nice to be welcomed by somebody.The legendary quarterback, Jet West, stood with his hip cocked. Did that face say Show me something?Jamal nodded and took his place in the line. He dropped into stance, ball in hand. The defensive line took position against them. Jamal scoped the defense. “OG twenty-four, T thirty-one.” Winston’s head snapped up at Jamal’s audible for a reposition on him and the tackle since centers rarely did audibles, but he moved along with Matoa.West generally liked shotgun position for the snap, but he stuck his hands under Jamal’s butt. “Flash thirty. Flash thirty.” Adrenaline rising, Jamal ticked the running back position off in his mind.West called, “F-stop two.” Fullback pass. “Hut. Hut.” Jamal snapped on two, his hands acting on instinct. No time to look. He felt West run backward. Jamal took three steps toward him to fill the hole and braced like a rhino for two linebackers coming at him. With a grunt, he locked a shoulder under one giant guy and pushed him toward the other one. Some luck and some skill caught the man off-balance, and his attackers wound up in a linebacker pile as Jamal opened a path for the halfback to run through for first down.Whistle. Wow. Blood pumped like joy juice. Hard-on city. They reformed the line and started another play, with no breather. This time, West slid back into shotgun, Jamal snapped directly into that soft right hand, took a step, and—oof—got sacked by three hundred pounds of linebacker. Shit! His shoulder hit the ground like he’d jumped off a two-story building, and he memorized the smell of the synthetic turf. Jesus, these guys sure hit harder than college, even just in practice. Imagine what a game will be like. No wonder Shields needed to retire; the guy was no spring chicken. Still, excitement tingled up Jamal’s spine, and every hair stood on end. He’d waited for this chance his whole life and he was up for it.
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