Friends, loyal readers, and all of my ex-wives: Yes, I DO still exist, which should please two out of three of those categories. Reports of my demise and/or debilitation are greatly exaggerated; in fact, I’ve been hot on the trail of one of the biggest scoops this year! It’s taken all of my talents for esoteric fact finding, skullduggery, cloak and dagger operations, and just plain ol’ gumption to make it happen, but today, my Winstonians, I bring you the thrilling tale of Johnny Football overcoming his addiction!
It was a long, arduous road, and began shortly after he exited his residential rehabilitation setting. I was sitting at my kitchen table, enjoying half a grapefruit while being grapefruited by my Bubbly Blonde Bombshell, when the thought occurred to me: Cleveland actually has an NFL team! After my breakfast was done and my citrus had been fully seeded, I took to the wire to find out more about the current state of The House That Jim Brown Built. As it turns out, the main story was that of
ownership corruption the fall of their young, star quarterback! I could not pass up such a juicy story, and I knew this sort of hard hitting, factual, and poignant journalism could only be achieved through anonymous sourcing!
I knew just where to start. I grabbed my rolodex and picked up the phone.
“Mr. Haslam,” I said to my Anonymous Source, a figure high in the Browns organization, “What is the future of Johnny Football in your organization, now that he has dedicated his life to being clean and sober?”
“There’s no way a man can play quarterback effectively without alternating doses of amphetamine and painkillers, not to mention a post-game week’s worth of muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety meds, marijua… Do I hear a tape recorder? That sounds like a goddamn reel-to-reel, Bud. I told you no recordings! YOU WANNA GET NAMED IN A RICO WARRANT FOR FUCK’S SAKE? WRONG NUMBER! WRONG NUMBER!”
Now this was intriguing. A high level anonymous team owner not willing to speak on the record about his star QB? Much like the time I met Helen Mirren at a Stag Party, I had to go deeper. I had to go where the anonymous sources are plentiful and willing to speak, so I packed up my kit and took off for the first church basement I could find in Cleveland and helped myself to the blackest of coffee and stalest of cookies in the seedy underbelly that is a 12-step meeting.
Well, I ran into even more dissembling and conversational chicanery from these anonymous folks. The question was merely “What can you tell me about Johnny’s time in rehab?”, and yet what I got was:
“Listen, if you’re talking Larroquette, I’m going to need to know which visit it was. Too many to choose from, here.”
“Oh, yeah, Bones Jones? That dude just hopped the fence. And then another fence. And then another.”
“Rehab? Yeah, right. That guy has all the Bazinga money right now; no way he’d go to rehab.”
“Wait, rehab? Shit. He took Letterman’s retirement way too hard, I guess.”
“Man, I hope it went really well. We really need Dr. Z back in the sportswriting game.”
“Oh, rehab? Is that where that little fuck is hiding? If you see Mr. Sugar, you tell him that if he surfaces anywhere near this town again, Dimitri and I will cut his penis off one millimeter at a time. I have a goddamn globe slicer all ready, and I’m gonna fix him a fucking hoagie he won’t forget.”
“Rehab? They really need to get that reboot off the ground if the fucking ROBOT landed in rehab!”
I was getting nowhere. Finally, though, while draining my lizard of tin-flavored church basement instant coffee, a familiar face hovered into view as it staggered out from the toilet stall, smelling heavily of Brut and honky tonk bars. Roy was as in with the alcoholics as white is with rice, having spent the better (and, eventually, worse) parts of his entire life sitting at a bar, and I hoped he knew all the dirt.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake, Bud, yes, of course. I know all about Little Johnny Pantywaist and his pansy-ass low tolerance level. In my day, you couldn’t even play quarterback unless you’d already crushed a six pack of Coors Banquet your uncle had driven halfway across the country and up and down the Rockies to get! I didn’t play a single game of my high school career sober, and damned if my ability to handle a fifth of Beam while stomping on would-be tacklers hands in the pile didn’t earn me a scholarship to the closest A&M. But this guy, well, he’s no Kosar, and I’m not even talking about football. Sure, yeah, the little shit could drink, but it was all this fucking women’s booze, vodka and shit. Jesus. You may as well just dip my dick in pink frosting and let me fuck a bucket of sprinkles for all the fucking good vodka will do you. IT’S WHAT THE FUCKING COMMUNISTS DRINK AND SEE HOW MUCH IT DID FOR THEM, HUH? FUCKING DIPSHITS COULDN’T EVEN THREATEN THE WORLD WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS RIGHT!”
Rehab, I reminded him, as I begin to sense he was getting off track.
“Oh, yeah, Bill W. Saved the Seven-beer Dwarf, all right. Made him a fucking quitter. What’s he gonna do when the pressure’s on and he’s got an average-sized actual man bearing down on him? Pray to his higher power and try to make amends? Shit. Yeah, from what my boy Kevin says, Pantyziel had a great time singing kumbaya and cry-bating in the shower for all 30 days while his handlers and apologists paid for his fancy-pants rehab stay. You know what rehab was when I was in it? VIETNAM, MOTHERFUCKERS!”
Finally, a scoop! Feeling a huge sense of satisfaction, I got the hell out of Cleveland and back to my own comfortable undisclosed location for a well-deserved drink. And so I raise this glass of a fine single-malt to you, Johnny Football, and to your victory over your own demons! No, you can’t have any of it! Until next time, dear readers!