"How did you feel, Mr. Gettleman, when Jerricho signed, after being spurned by so many other free agent wide receivers?"
"How did I feel?" thought Dave Gettleman "How did I feel? I'll tell you how I felt. . ."
"Mr. Gettleman, Mr. Crotchety. . ."
"Mr. Cotchery is here to see you."
"Send him in."
This was the moment. It was becoming too much to bear. No one could replace Steve, of course, but maybe somebody could help fill the void a little. It's not like Dave regretted the elder receiver's release. No. He knew it had to happen. It's just that things weren't the same without him.
Anxious, Dave sat next to the small coffee table and fidgeted with the box laying on top, wondering how best to broach this subject. Images, moments, remnants of his failures with each of the other free agent wide receivers ran through his head: a river choked with ridicule, confusion, and disappointment. He had made the same offer to each receiver that he had brought in for a visit. Each receiver to date had either laughed or stared blankly before losing or simply walking out the door.
"Please, sit down Jerricho."
"Sure. . . Oh, neat!" Jerricho said, looking at the box on the coffee table, "I used to play this when I was kid."
"As did I, Jerricho. If you can beat me, I will offer you a contract to play for the Carolina Panthers as a wide receiver."
"If you can beat me," Dave repeated patiently as he opened the box, "in a game of Battleship, then I will offer you a contract to play for the Carolina Panthers as a wide receiver."
"Let us begin."
Blood pounded in Dave's ears. The board was set up and there was nothing else but the serene plastic waters and the utterly unorganized mess of white and red pins strewn across the table. There were no negotiations, no football teams. There was Battleship, the one thing that no one could beat him at except Steve Smith. It was his love above all else. Davy needed his fixy. The game was afoot.
A slightly bemused Jerricho traded turns, and missiles, with an over-eager Dave. It was a tight game, with Jerricho proving himself to be at least Dave's equal.
"B5," guessed the free agent.
"I asked you a question, and your eyes kind of glazed over."
"Can you repeat the question?"
"Sure, as long as you don't turn into an ad for Krispy Kreme again. . ."
"OK, How did you feel when Jerricho signed, after being spurned by so many other free agent wide receivers?"
"He blew me out of the water."
Hat tip to BusyBeingAwesome for the inspiration to hunt this story down.