The Biggest Dumbbell
To officially kick-off the NFL football season, allow me to digress to a situation dating back to last year. It is one that I should have passed on.
A ruggedly handsome muscular man noticed my Philadelphia Eagles jersey bleeding green from the moment I entered the Bally’s free weight room. His eyes bulged from the weights he pushed skyward but he quickly made conversation between honest sets. The smell of the Eagles current playoff run seemed like it lingered in the air.
“Are you a big Eagles fan?” he asked.
“One of the biggest fans around. When the Eagles made it to the Super Bowl, the Courier Post newspaper did a multi-page story on me. They hailed me as “Super Fan” in the article.”
“Then I am talking to the right person.” he promoted. “What do you think the Eagles chances are this weekend in the playoffs?”
If there was a pulpit, I would have stood on it for what I was about to say. “The team really responds to back-up quarterback Jeff Garcia taking over for Donovan McNabb. Garcia is an incredible field general and I welcome his leadership.”
“So you prefer Garcia over McNabb as our quarterback?”
I am mindful when speaking to strangers especially when it comes to their passion for football. So I opted to de-escalate the quarterback controversy.
I answered, “I am no frontrunner jumping on the bandwagon of Jeff Garcia’s recent success and there is no racial issue intended. I like McNabb, admire his immense talent, even wear his jersey on my back. However, I think McNabb has a kink in his armour that Garcia is exposing in his absence.”
“In your mind, what is the kink in McNabb’s armour?”
“I am going t be honest with you. Donovan McNabb seems to lack leadership. McNabb doesn’t rally his troops on the sideline. I bet McNabb doesn’t say anything to his teammates in the huddle. I bet McNabb doesn’t…”
“He does with me…” defended the man.
“What?” I scoffed.
Never before was the height difference between two men on the same issue at a greater divide. My neck cocked back to take in this man’s grandeur and his wingspan alone was enough to rival that of an eagle. My waiting for an explanation had me feeling microscopically insignificant, even as a media annoited "Super Fan."
He explained, “When I am on the sidelines or in the huddle with Donovan McNabb he shows leadership. He has absolute control of the team.”
I had done so much talking that I felt ashamed to ask my first question. “Who are you?”
“Adrien Clarke, offensive lineman, a member of the Eagles 2005 Super Bowl squad.”
Adrien Clarke worked out with nothing but dumbbells that day and I was the biggest dumbbell in the weight room. Adrien and I have since become friendly but not without a less than McNabbimous start. Look for #61 6’5” 330 lb. Adrien Clarke on the field for the New York Jets this season.