I want to start this out by thanking Jerry Richardson and the Carolina Panthers for putting together a team whose ethos we can be proud of, a team whose identity we can admire. Next I’d like to acknowledge the great community that makes CatScratchReader.com the resounding success that it is (that’s you guys). You made bad seasons bearable, wins more exciting, and brought fan interaction to a level of love and respect I had never imagined outside of a college campus. To Jaxon, James, BW and the rest: Thanks for everything, I’ll try to stay in touch.
I have to say this, you see, because I am leaving the Carolina Panthers, though they will never leave me. I am not doing this because I am fed up with the efforts of the Panthers on the field or in the front office. Both have left much to be desired in recent years to be sure, but I leave you now when things are finally looking up. Teflon Ron is on the brink of his first over .500 record as a head coach. Cam is looking fearless and flawless. LaFell, from whose bandwagon I never fell, is not proving me to be the idiot that I probably am. I am not leaving because of any negatives in the Panthers franchise, nor am I such a masochist that I feel the need to move to a losing team to maintain my emotional status quo. Instead it is because I like to think of myself as a man of integrity, and this dude could not abide the impending conflict of interest. It is because of the rare combination of those great and oft conflicting motivators in life: Loyalty and cold, hard cash.
A spider hides in the shadows to lure in prey and stay hidden from predators. This spider strikes from the shadows for neither of those reasons. My tangled web, woven of twisted and terrible metaphors, is merely a façade to mask from you, dear Readers, my true identity and origins. The acne this spider has is so embarrassing to any true arachnid that they would die of the shame. There isn’t enough Hokie’s face paint in the world to hide it behind. Loyalty or no, shame can only truly be countered by the absolutely shameless: a lucrative contract from an NFL franchise. I have received an offer from my hometown team. Before I officially accept the offer, I feel I owe it to you to reveal my secret:
I was born less than 50 miles from where Raymond James Stadium now stands in Tampa, FL. This is as difficult for me to confess as I am sure it is for you to read, so I shall stay as far away from metaphors as possible so that my meaning is not lost. I probably won’t though, sorry about that.
Though I left the evil, sunny haunts of southern Florida while I was very young, I still feel called by whatever magic it is that ties a man to his homeland. The question of ‘what could have been?’ plagues me. It is the herpes of my life, forever ruining every encounter I have had with clean Panthers, causing me to burn and itch with both desire and disease at the worst possible times.
The possibility to heal that curse in a way that no one has ever cured their Herpes Simplex 1 infection presented itself to me in the form of a contract offer several weeks ago. The presence of Josh Freeman had turned Greg Schiano into an uncontrollable mass of seaweed. The shelter he provided to turtles, MRSA, and other dangerous fish in the Tampa Bay area was a danger to the franchise. They were able to extricate Freeman before he caused Schiano to fester, allowing the coach to recede to a mere exhibition habitat being built for Sea World. However, the Glazers were capable of recognizing that he was still a threat to the team. He could inflate into a veritable invective-laden tornado of spiky fruit and sea cows with the slightest provocation.
And so it was that the Bucs approached me, the Prodigal Son of Tampa. My unique communication skills and inability to understand reason were just what they thought they needed to control Coach Greggy and, if needs be, the Buccaneers team itself. They gave me some time to consider and then called me back the next day with a salary estimation. Basically, I hear Tampa is really nice this time of year. So, I can officially announce that I have been hired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with the job title: Life Coach to Greg Schiano and Interim Head Coach In-Waiting. My lack of experience coaching, or even playing, football was not a concern to them. They wanted me for my clarity of vision and straight-forward style. The rest, they said, was why you had assistants. I'm off now, over the rainbow, into the wild blue yonder, and up a foul smelling creek without any means of propulsion. Which is all to say that I look forward to seeing you Thursday night in my new house. Good luck, and may the best goose egg win.