The Vertical Game
It's the same dream that has startled Mark Davis from his sleep for years. Mark is nine years old, he's in his room playing with G.I. Joes when his father Al Davis storms in. Al grabs Mark by the cuff of the neck and backhands him "Dolls!.... you're playing with dolls!" Mark starts to protest "They're action figures, Dad!"
Mr. Davis won't hear it, "They Are Dolls! Mark, fucking girly dress-up dolls and you boy are a sissy." Mark collapses on the floor sobbing, his father looms over him. Then Al regains his composure, combs his greasy black hair back with his hands and squats down next to Mark.
"Quick boy! If Plunkett takes the snap and it's third and long, the pocket is collapsing around him and his receivers are covered... what does he do?" Mark looks up at his father's ruddy face, he can almost detect a fleeting sign of acceptance "A shovel pass?" Mark sheepishly answers.
Al's rage erupts like a Pacific rim volcano, "A Motherfucking shovel Pass!" spittle sprays across the room. "A Shovel Pass!! Mark? NO!! he goes VERTICAL!, it's a vertical game, we always go DEEP!" the boy cowers next to his bed. "Get the Fuck out off my face!" Al bellows "Get the fuck out! I swear Hendricks got to your mother before I did, you are not my seed.... you shit eating pipsqueak"
At that point Mark wakes up, across from him at the board room table sits Hue Jackson. The Coach gives Mark that look, the one that says "I know you pissed the bed until you were fifteen" Mark braces himself for something to come flying through the air and strike him on the head, it doesn't happen. The Captain is dead and the cabin boy has assumed command.
Amy Trask is still droning on about trademarks and market share. "Yeah! we nailed Nation Burger's balls to the wall, that will teach them to fuck with us...." Mark starts to slip into his happy place when he catches Hue staring at him, only now his look says "I know you ain't had pussy since pussy had you" Mark looks away and then looks back, Hue's eyes are still locked onto him.
"Anyhoo... let's move on to bigger and better things" Ms. Trask flashes a shit eating grin "I would like to introduce our new general manager" she pauses for full effect "Reggie McKenzie!" a rhythmic applause builds around the table, Reggie is an imposing figure, he ambles in with the deliberate gait of a big man. He raises his right arm to call for silence
"I'm proud to be back home, once a Raider always a Raider!" he roars, the room fills with excitement and applause. He then sits down next to Mark Davis and pats him on the back. Mark's frown turns upside down. A look of consternation crosses Hue's face, his eyebrows pull together, he thinks to himself "What the fuck is going on here?"
Reggie clears his throat "This is the dawn of a new era, the mistakes of the past will not be repeated" Hue feels his pulse start to quicken "We move forward, with new ideas and a better way of doing things" looking straight at Hue Jackson, McKenzie declares "Raider Nation will rise again!" a raucous round of applause follows "Anything you want to add, Boss?" McKenzie tells Mark Davis.
Mark beams with purpose "Yes, can we have a horse gallop up and down the sidelines like the Texas Tech Red Raiders?" Suddenly Hue explodes out of his seat, he brings both of his fist down on the tabletop "A Horse?... A Motherfucking Horse!" the veins surrounding his forehead bulge out "I see what's going on, even a blind horse can smell water.... you.... you motherfuckers!"
Reggie clears his throat again, "In answer to Mr. Davis... no horses on the sideline" he then motions to a pair of burly security guards who have slipped in unnoticed "Please escort Mr. Jackson from the room" Hue shakes with rage, "You high yella motherfucker, I brought you in and you're putting me out?" Reggie looks up from his computer screen and in a calm voice explains "Hue, you are dismissed as head coach of the Raiders"
The guards grab hold of Jackson and quickly usher him out the door. "Muthafuckas!!" he yells "Muthafuckas!!" the sound of his voice echoes down the hallway. The heavy silence around the board room table is broken by Reggie McKenzie "I have a PowerPoint presentation, I want all of you to watch"
Amy Trask looks at him quizzically "Our computers don't have Windows Office" Without missing a beat Reggie continues "Do we have Open Source Office?" John Herrera, Al's old crony pipes in "I'll look into that immediately, Mr.McKenzie" Reggie closes his laptop and motions for Amy to continue.
Amy stands up, fixes her lapels and then gushes with excitement "Gentlemen, can you say Irwindale Raiders?" Reggie flashes a huge smile "Come on now!" Amy coaxes them on "Irwindale Raiders.... Irwindale Raiders.... Irwindale Raiders" Reggie turns to Mark and gives him a thunderous high five "God Damn it feels good to be a Raider again!" he yells as he takes in the scene.