I can remember before he was on your TV screen. Before he was flexing his muscles in a mock kissing motion, hardly stopping for breath after outrunning eleven. I knew his voice before quarterback controversy talk on Gameday and the precipice of Lombardi’s silver reflection — inviting, pulling, calling — is there any reason to think he’ll be denied?
He was off-guard that day we met. Shifting uncomfortably in that generic pink hotel ballroom, he had been shuffled, once again, in front of the usual assortment of fat old bald guys holding onto the last vestiges of a profession. Not that I wasn’t going down the same path in my own way, or that those fat and balding men hadn’t stood in my very place years before.
He wasn’t like them though. Not so calculated and formulaic. I mean he was confident, to be sure, and brimming with a smile that could stretch all the way back to Reno. But he was still just a kid. He was still out of place. He was, I remember, like me.
He graces the screens of Sportcenter and has even been selected in the Major League Baseball draft. I once made a comment on an ESPN message board, and participated in an online MLB fantasy player draft. We are, in a nutshell, polar opposites in appearance and accomplishment.
I can’t tell you if Colin remembers who I was. I can’t say he didn’t forget that day. But from my past there’s a portrait, framed in time and in space, that has been painted in my mind’s eye. I pull the watercolor from the shelf of a cagey mind on long days. It gives me pause to smile, a chuckle amidst wordless seas lost in anxiety. And when I watch Sportcenter after a long day of work, the picture in my mind matches the young man on your TV screen. I see Colin, and I smile.