When I woke up in the team hotel on Sunday morning I laughed to myself when I felt a smile covering my face. It was the first gameday of the season and even before I was consciously thinking about the game, I was already excited about the day! Those of you who have played competitive sports or who have a something you are involved in that you are passionate about, you know what I mean. The adrenaline rush -- or just the anticipation of the adrenaline rush -- is exciting!
My routine on game days is fairly predictable. The first thing I do every Sunday morning during the season is call Rachel. She answers the phone the same way every game day morning, "Good morning, Superstar". I love knowing that she sees me that way -- I love even more knowing that she loves the part of me that is off the field -- the guy who will be done with football someday -- the guy who is the father of her child and the guy who fell in love with her years ago when we were in the same group in our communication class in college. That's what keeps me smiling -- and that's what makes it special that she thinks of me as a superstar on gamedays!
After I talk to Rachel, I shower and head downstairs for breakfast. A buffet of eggs, steak, hashbrowns, spaghetti, oatmeal, juices, water, gatorade, etc. is setup in a conference/ballroom for the team. My plate is usually filled with eggs, hashbrowns, and oatmeal with orange juice to drink. On Sunday I found a seat at a table with John Carlson and Matt Hasselbeck. We felt like we were running late because with this year's schedule (different coaching staff and no meetings in the mornings) there weren't many others in the room with us.
After breakfast, we headed to the game. Because there aren't any team meetings in the mornings this year, I took my suitcase down to breakfast with me and headed down to Qwest from there. I rode with Matt to the game because we had friends and relatives who were in town and needed to use my parking pass for the game. My mom was in from Indiana and so were our friends Courtney and Jimmy (with their son Edison) from Florida.
The ride down was smooth in Matt's new Infiniti. We talked about how excited we were to play the first game. I told him I had a feeling we were going to blow them out. He said that can be a dangerous feeling sometimes. Looks like I was right. For the rest of the ride we listened to songs on XM radio.
As we pulled up to Qwest and saw Matt's face on the side of the stadium I felt my face start to smile again. I was home. After five previous seasons, I have a feeling of belonging when I get to the stadium. I know that can be a dangerous feeling too, because you never know when that tenure might end. I called Rachel and we said a prayer before I headed to the locker room.
When I got to the locker room, I headed to the hot tub and then Coach Krein helped me stretch out. After that, I got all of my pads together and laid them out in front of my locker, all ready to go. I always look for something in the game program to use as fodder to make fun of my teammates. On Sunday, I found a picture of Matt Hasselbeck and Freddy Ljungberg of the Seattle Sounders (former Calvin Klein underwear model) side-by-side. Matt's blue-steel impression wasn't nearly as impressive as Freddy's. Matt claimed it was bad lighting.
When I got out to the field I warmed up with "The Colonel" (Coach Clark). I signed a few autographs and headed back into the locker room for the final preparations before we headed out as a team. I had my ankles taped, put on my eye-black, hydrated a bit more because of the warm weather and the next thing I knew, Jim Mora was calling us to head out to the field.
Pregame introductions always get me fired up with the fireworks and running out with the team. We stand in the tunnel and have to wait for the bird to take off and fly. Sometimes it takes two or three times for the bird to see its handler motion for it to fly out. As soon as it does, that's our cue to follow. I don't know if I am more fired up than my teammates, but I can't wait to run out, so often I'm the first one to the field.
Everyone knows how the game turned out and I couldn't be happier to shut out a divisional opponent (The Rams) in the home opener. If there are any 12th men reading this, THANK YOU! It was louder on the field in the first half than I have ever heard it! You were awesome and the false starts were all because of you.
Today I am spending my time with my mom, Rachel, and Journey. Looking forward to the day off tomorrow. If any of you live in Puyallup, I will be signing autographs at the fair for an hour starting at 2:00.
TODAY'S TOUCHDOWN: Hitting the hot tub this morning at work after waking up barely being able to move this morning! I've got to find a hot tub for our backyard. Any suggestions?