Taylor walked into the locker room, already wondering if the second chance was going to be worth it. He hobbled across the floor, trying to hide the pain in his left leg. Four years ago, Taylor had been considered a champion . . . a college football guard with a real shot at the NFL. Now, he was merely a washed-up has-been with a broken leg which had never been set back in place quite right. He managed to hide his limp and force a small grin as he walked past Shane, Danny, and Brett. "Hey, Shane. What's happening?"
"Not much. Danny, Brett . . . this is my brother, Taylor. He's going to be our new guard." As each shook Taylor's hand, Nigel stormed by, knocking into Taylor, more than likely intentionally. "What's Nigel's problem?"
Taylor shrugged. "He's still pretty full of himself . . . I kinda told him that, too." Taylor had managed to catch the games his brother had participated in while his leg was healing after his first surgery. He remembered Nigel above all of the interesting characters on the team, though why was still a big mystery to him. Maybe it was the Welsh . . . maybe it was he complete confidence when it came to women and kicking the damn ball.
"I wouldn't piss him off like that," Danny said, maybe a little more energetic than necessary. "He's pretty mean when he wants to be."
Brian nodded furiously. You should have seen him that night at the bar fight! He was getting into the action as much as anyone else, he signed.
"Of course . . . McGinty did say he was . . . wiry." Taylor chuckled as she watched Nigel nearly get knocked over by Jamal. "Watch your step, pretty boy!" he called to Nigel, who in return graciously presented the bird. Taylor laughed even harder and returned the gesture.
"We better get on the field before something really does get started," Shane interjected before Taylor could cause any more harm to the poor Welshman. "And you . . ." he added as Danny and Brett ran ahead of them. " . . . better behave yourself. I know you like starting things and having fun, but try to do it without tearing the team apart, okay?"
Taylor sighed. "I hate it when you put a damper on things like that, but okay." He gave his brother their routine fist pump before carefully hustling out onto the field.
"Alright gentlemen . . . welcome back to the world of football." Jimmy McGinty walked across the field in front of the lined-up teammates. "Now, there are quite a few people we could not get back. Obviously, a player like Earl Wilkinson . . . we weren't so lucky as to get him out of jail a second time. We will all miss Andre Jackson, who was an amazing guard. a great teammate, and an even better friend. However, now is not the time to grieve our losses, but rather celebrate our gain. Our two new players, Taylor Falco and John Atkins are more than capable to help our team make it to the Super Bowl."
Everyone was looking around,wondering if they had heard right. "Falco . . . kinda like Shane Falco?" asked Clifford Franklin. "I didn't know Shane had a brother."
"How's he supposed to be a guard?" Nigel called out. "He's just about as wiry as me."
"What the hell is wiry?" Taylor shouted back. "Where I'm from, it's pronounced WIRE-Y not WIRY!"
"Well, I can't help how you bloody say it! I'm bloody Welsh and we say wiry!" Nigel was storming over to Taylor.
Taylor stood his ground. "Go back to Wales then!"
"ENOUGH!" McGinty broke it up, not sure whether to be amused or furious with the two players. "Both of you, ten laps around the field. Stick next to each other the whole time or I'll tack on another ten laps." Taylor and Nigel glared at each other, the hate radiating profusely. "MOVE IT!"
"Damn you," Taylor muttered under his breath as he and Nigel started their punishment.
"Screw you," Nigel retorted. He started off jogging, then sped up to stay up with Taylor. "What's your fucking problem anyway? I didn't do a bloody thing to you."
Taylor grunted and glanced over at his teammate. "You kinda rub me the wrong way, especially since Shane had to save your ass because you have a gambling problem."
"Had a gambling problem. After that day, I paid those goons off and haven't bet what I don't have since."
"I'll believe it when I see it, Gruff." Taylor led the way around the field, forcing Nigel to actually run the rest of the way.