It wasn’t hot in here. It was the middle of January on the outskirts of Reno, Nevada. And I had been waiting. For an hour and a half.
Roy rolled up to me at the bar and slapped my back, a little too hard given how it had taken three weeks, two cancelled meetings, six voicemails, an email, and countless text messages to even get to this point. And then he was late. It didn’t seem to faze him though. Of course, being hard to get a hold of has been Roy’s calling card for more than three decades.
“You try these Bloomin’ Onions here?!” It was like he was trying to shout over a live band. For someone as private, and dangerous, as Roy, he talked incredibly loud. My initial thought was that being out of the game so long had dulled Roy’s senses, or maybe he had made peace with his much-maligned past. I did think, however, that it was curious when he asked to switch seats with me at the bar.
Then I realized that my previous vantage point had a clear view of both the entrance and exit. And I hoped really fucking hard that he was doing that out of habit, not necessity.
The Boy, I Love Losing Superbowls Buffalo Bills. John Elway starting off 0-3 in Superbowls before winning two straight. Deion Sanders signing with the 49ers for only the 1994-1995 season. Barry Sanders’ inexplicable retirement. The Music City Miracle. Drew Bledsoe’s injury. The Tuck Rule. Peyton Manning’s 11-13 playoff record. Eli Manning’s entire NFL existence. Brett Favre’s penis. Joe Flacco being the highest paid player in NFL history. All of these are integral parts of the past 30 years of NFL lore. All of them are connected in some way, and not solely because of football.
The amount of money that has pulsed through the aforementioned events was and is astronomical. Because of this, every mover and shaker available has tried to make themselves an essential part or hub of the proceedings. There are the familiar players: coaches, agents, parents, owners, family members, advertisers. Some succeed, most don’t. However, as with most conspiracies and scandals, there are always those overlooked. Those that are perfectly fine staying below the radar and above reproach, for a vast array of reasons. This time, the reasons were laid out before, and around, me. This Outback Steakhouse on the outskirts of Reno, Nevada held many a secret, and not just how they made such delicious and potent mudslides.
So as I sat slowly perspiring in this increasingly hot Outback Steakhouse, next to Roy either nervously or casually checking the exits, I take a deep breath and ask him the question that has been whispered in NFL locker rooms for the past thirty years.
“Where is the Big Galoot?”
His darting eyes rest for a moment, connecting with mine. He slyly smiles, and says, still shout-talking.
“I’ll answer the question, but you’ll find out that isn’t the first one you should be asking me.”