The halls were empty today at our Dove Valley facility. Tuesday is an empty day in the NFL anyway, but on a Tuesday in late December, you can hear leaky faucets. Not that we have any. Our maintenance crew is excellent. In fact, everyone that steps into that building is excellent at what they do, and that's not an accident. The efficiency with which the building moves and operates should be studied and emulated and taken to our nation's capital. There are far too many leaky faucets there.
The halls weren't completely empty though. There were a few injured reserve guys like me, grunting and stunting and preening for our athletic trainers. There were injured guys who are trying to get healthy enough to play on Christmas Eve. All of the coaches were there. The Tuesday off-day rule doesn't apply to them. They put in pretty ridiculous hours. The equipment managers were there. They are good dudes. They were cleaning out our punter's locker because he was released today. That's the way the NFL works, here today and gone tomorrow. I have made many friends during my 5 years in the NFL who have been released on a Tuesday morning like Todd was today. When everyone comes back to work tomorrow, Todd will be gone, and most of us will never see him again.
Also today there was the urine handler. The wiener watcher. The pee nazi. The wizz kid. The piss doctor. He oversees the process of relieving oneself into a measurable plastic container. In years past, athletes have made attempts to subvert the random drug screening process by diluting the sample with a foreign agent or by strapping on a prosthetic schlong that pumps out clean piss. The NFL has chosen to take matters into its own hands, literally. Prior to urinating, the urine collector now palpates the athlete's groin area to determine the authenticity of the appendage. As you can imagine, this is an awkward process. It's also a lie. I am lying. Actually, more like satirizing. We are not touched, but almost. The NFL now requires us to wash our hands with water (no soap), take off our shirts, drop our pants below our knees and fill the cup while the wiener watcher literally watches wiener, making sure the urine is exiting our bladders through an untainted and unobstructed urethra. Stage fright is common, but the peeman won't leave until you fill that cup, and if you can't fill it within 4 hours of being notified, it's considered a failed test.
Tomorrow the rest of the team will be back at work to begin the week of preparations. Wednesday is one of the longest days of the week for an NFL athlete, and this time of year, it is easy for guys to distracted. The body is breaking down, relatives are salivating over the holidays, the weather sucks, the season is almost over. But the tough, professional, prideful guys can block all of that stuff out and perform like it's week 1. Those are the guys that make up a winning team. Besides, San Diego is a division rival, and they are good. Everyone will have their hands full, especially the urine handler. -- Nate Jackson
Nate Jackson, when not on injured reserve, is a tight end with the Denver Broncos. Tune back in all this week as he sheds some light on what a week in the life of an NFL player is like.