Whatever You Do, DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK!!!

So here’s the deal: I don’t like to get emotional with my blogs. I try to keep things light and on their toes. Life is hard enough so I try to use this site as an escape, rather than a glimpse into what really goes down behind closed doors. That said, I think it’s finally time I get back on the horse…

As some of you may know, I often talk about how I could’ve been the greatest quarterback of all time. It’s not something I’m proud of, but more or less something I’m forced to live with…

The picture above displays me during my days as a third-string quarterback for the Hanover Indians pop warner team. This picture, in particular, was taken roughly 2-3 months before I sprained my ankle—an injury that would ultimately disintegrate any aspirations I had of playing in the NFL. And although it pains me to reflect on those three days of my life, the experience reinstilled my faith in the human spirit.

For a little background, I had a laundry list of nicknames back then. Scouts would come far and wide to catch a glimpse of the kid known as “The Buzzsaw.” Plymouth County oddsmakers would camp out in the parking lots of Cedar Elementary school to scribble notes on who the local sharks referred to as “The Human Backdoor Cover.” Opposing parents would sit in the bleachers with their hands clenched, sweating that our first/second-string quarterback remained in good health. In other words, everyone wanted a piece of the kid who could roll out of bed, dial it up from 40 yards out and stick it in a fucking mailbox. That was just how things worked. I was batting away Payless sneaker deals like gnats…

In other words, everyone knew I was the next man up. They knew I’d later be known around the South Shore as “The Pride of Hanover,” but it wasn’t always that way. Every football coach I’ve ever had (so the three that coached in eighth grade) tried to force a square peg in a round hole. They looked at someone with my power and speed and immediately plugged me in at middle linebacker or defensive end. Turns out, that wasn’t my dream. I was born to chuck it around the yard, so one day, I told my coach I wanted a crack at quarterback. He obliged and let me run warm ups for the receivers before practice. It was bullshit, but after a week, eyes were pried open. People knew who would eventually squat behind center during states… until one fateful Wednesday in Fall.

It was a crisp day, not unlike the ones that had come before. The ground still displayed a slick layer of dew that had accumulated since early morning. There was a light fog, just enough to obscure the view of a deep fade route, but I remained true until the play that would eventually derail the hope of a region.

I dropped back, looked off my first read (which was the runningback I was supposed to hand the ball off to) and stepped up to avoid the blind side rush. As I finally saw an opening in the B-Gap, I slammed down on my right leg to launch but something was different. I had rolled my ankle on the left guard, who will remain anonymous to protect his family.

My initial diagnosis was 2-3 days on the pine. Now, you have to remember that this was back in the early 2000s. HGH was nowhere near what it’s developed into today. Strictly speaking, my diagnosis was simple: “ice it, keep it elevated, and you should be good to go on Saturday.” Naively, I obliged.

However, when I got back on Sunday, things were different. I flat out didn’t have that same drive off the back foot that used to knock scouts off their ass earlier in the season. Windows started to close, and with that, my confidence began to dwindle as well. Any great quarterback will tell you that once your confidence goes, you’re roughly one or two pick six’s away from handing in your pads. Being a perfectionist, I told myself I would never go out that way; thus, I quit football the next year.

For the record, I’ve had a lot of people tell me I’m being overdramatic about this, which is bullshit. Over the years, I’ve heard everything under the sun about my playing days. People always say things like “Joe, no offense dude but half the team would’ve had to die in a bus fire for you to see first half snaps” or “Joe, you’re not a winner…”

Really, dude? I’m fine with people knocking my playing career—that’s fine—but DON’T say I’m not a winner. A little known fact about Joe Romano is that he’s perfect in shoulder pads because, that year, we went undefeated. Now, I understand many will contend “Joe, you weren’t undefeated; the first string was undefeated,” but allow me to spit some facts real quick

  1. Ever since I was nearly aborted, all anyone has ever told me is that practice makes perfect.
  2. Who do you think the first string practiced against, mothafucka? Check mate…

To wrap things up, everything’s fine with me these days. No crying over spilled milk. I’m currently living out my dream as a copywriter at a second-rate preowned car dealership in western, MA; however, don’t think the fire doesn’t still rage within.

Yesterday, my buddy (who happened to play on that infamous eight grade team, by the way) texted me this and I think it may be time to dust off the rotator cuff…

Don’t call it a comeback. Stay posted…

Joey Boats (@joey_boats)

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