On the evening of May the 1st, I played flag-football with a member of the X-Men.
Pause. Rewind. Back it up.
There are so many terrible players in the NFL, right? Just bunches and bunches of JAG's. Every team has a practice squad full o' them. Vernon Gholston? Just A Guy. Nelson Rosario? Sucks. Blaine Gabbert? A shell of a JAG! Beanie Wells misses holes so big, I could have run through them.
Visualize two things for me. Please?
1. Picture the most athletic friend you have. Maybe it is Bill, from Accounting. Bill has never lost a game of racquetball at LA Fitness. Bill has his name on a plaque at your local high school, and he can throw a football over those mountains. He's an average kind of guy, but he is fit, he is fast, and he regularly dunks in pick-up games.
2. That scene in 3:10 to Yuma/Tron/The Terminator: you know the one. That moment where it dawns on the characters that they are wholly unequipped to deal with the situation. That wrinkle, when time slows to a crawl, and you realize that the world is a far more terrible place than you imagined, and your role in the script of Existence shrinks to a bit part. You thought you were Daryl (or at least Rick), and you suddenly find that you are the extra who gets their head stepped on by Andrea. Andrea!
On the evening of May the 1st, I played flag-football with a member of the X-Men. He was a Corner who had played college ball in the area, and is now on the practice squad of an NFL team. He reached in to my chest, gripped the portion of my heart where my ego resides, and pulled it out, just so I could see how small it was before darkness claimed me. And he was on my team.
This guy (Let's call him Chris, Chris Harris...on. Chris Harrison) moved at a speed that I did not think humans could obtain. But it wasn't just that; he had control over his body. Have you ever tried a roundhouse, and ended up ass-over-teakettle at the foot of your driveway? Chris Harrison's body did whatever he told it to. As I read that statement, it seems so trivial. I will try to give an example...
I was in the backfield. Chris took the snap, pitched it to me, and I scrambled for a bit before throwing it back to him. Chris caught the ball mid-stride, then his body stopped. Two tacklers fell down in front of him. He was immediately moving mid-stride again. Then he just ran into the end zone. Sure, it was the entire length of the field, but it was that easy for him. The other tacklers chasing him had apparently walked in some kind of Mario Kart glue, because they were scarcely moving.
I took over football games in high school. And I can remember taking over a flag-football game once, or so I thought. What Chris did was on a level that my brain could not comprehend. The regulars on the team usually go out for beers after games, but even though we had just won 70-0, none of us felt like celebrating. A god had just reveled in our mortality.
This is what I have realized: Nobody in the NFL sucks.
If a scout for a professional football team considers you a possible player in The League, no matter how brief, then you are not terrible. You are a superhuman. Aaron Curry is a superhuman. If Chris Harrison is not good enough to be a 3rd string player (let alone a starter), what would playing flag-football with Earl Thomas be like?
These athletes' accomplishments have become rudimentary data points to us: 45 inch vertical? Work on that, son. 4.55 40? Too slow! I have lost all perspective on what these numbers mean, relative to a normal human being. Will this change, after having met Odin's son, Chris Harrison? No, not at all. But now I realize that there is no such thing as a JAG in the NFL. Every one of those players is capable of holding Thermopylae against an army of pudgy, pasty, human beings.
Except Blaine Gabbert. God, that guy sucks.