"Good afternoon Mr. Davis," said the plump nurse with the puke green smock and her clicking clipboard. "Just step right in here and remove your clo.., er gameplans from this past season. The doctor will be right in."
A portly, middle-aged gentleman with a Longhorn golf shirt slides into the examining room, a frustrated, irritated look on his face.
A few minutes later, properly stripped of his shotgun lead draw, empty backfield and five wide receivers, zone read, max protect package, John Chiles, and Jamaal Charles, said Mr. Davis looks up to see the door open.
"How're you" drawls a short man with a white lab coat, balding comb-over, thick glasses, and black Oxford shoes. "I'm Dr. BON, and oh by the way, I hope you don't mind, but there's a football medical resident, Dr. Applewhite, visiting the office today. He'll just be observing."
Another short man with cropped carrot hair and a piercing glance over his narrow freckled chin slipped in the room and offered his hand, "I'm Major."
"Good to see you, son," said Mr. Davis, "Glad to see you're doing so well."
"It's been a blast, coach."
"Let's see, you must be Mr. Davis," begins the doctor. "I must say we've been expecting you for some time. You keep canceling your appointments!"
"Well, I'm not doing so good, doc. I keep thinking I'm alright, but I'm worried."
"Well, what seems to be the problem?"
Mr. Davis stares at the floor. "I'm worried that I've got...," he sighed, "football Alzheimer's."
The two doctors stare at each other, nodding.
"Well, what makes you think that Mr. Davis?" says the doctor, peering at his patient through his glasses, which in the right light seem to have transparent football fields over the lenses.
"Well, I just can't seem to change my gameplan during games. I mean, I study film all week, I see what the other team is doing, and then, by golly, come game time, they never do what they're supposed to! And I can't seem to figure out what to do different, until, like the fourth quarter! I've damn near killed that poor kid McCoy 3 or 4 times this year cause all those teams keep blitzing."
"Well, don't you have any new plays? Can't your quarterback audible?"
"Well, hell, doc, of course I've got new plays. I just can't seem to make up my mind which ones to use. And let me tell you, we tried that audible thing at the beginning of the season. That poor McCoy kid's head looked like the LA freeways at 8 am. He was thinking about so many things he looked like a dadgum supermodel out there. So we had to cut down the options."
"So you don't really PLAN to change your plays, then?" asked Dr. BON.
"PLAN to?" Mr. Davis looks confused. "Why would I want to do that? I mean, you know, you figure out where the weak spot is and hammer it until the other team yells uncle."
"Hmmm...," says the doctor. "Well, Dr. Applewhite, what do you think?"
Unfortunately, Dr. Applewhite was having a flashback of a game, long ago and far away, when the same slot receiver slant route the Longhorns had run seven times before in the same game was jumped by the linebacker, and a 260 pound freight train, er defensive end, tried his best to make a piece of bacon out of him. "Uh," muttered Dr. Applewhite, cold sweat breaking out on his pale forehead.
Dr. BON arched an eyebrow, but then turned back to Mr. Davis. "We've taken the liberty of watching some of your game films. I would agree there's some sort of problem."
"So what do you think it is doc?"
"I would have to come down on the side of Asperger's syndrome. Would you concur Dr. Applewhite?"
The good medical resident, perhaps a little too quickly, nodded his head.
"Asperg....What? What the hell's Asberger's sin...whatever!"
"It's a fairly nasty ailment of the brain, especially common in men, where the subject gets stuck on some particular point of interest. Like a spinning wheel, flying birds, a running train, or in your case that shotgun draw and slot receiver slant route you just seem fixated on. Subjects with Asperber's just seem endlessly fascinated with the same things. I mean, it's nothing to be ashamed of; it's associated with high IQ and "high functioning." And often the person is very good at doing certain things. In your case I believe that was the zone read play?"
"Well what the hell do you mean, doc. Those are good plays!" said Mr. Davis, getting a little red in the face.
"You explain it to him, why don't you, Dr. Applewhite."
The young man's red hair seems to take on a brighter shade of pink. "Well, coach, I mean, yeah, those are good plays, but man, you just can't run'em all game long, game after game. You gotta change it up! You know, run the zone read for 3 downs, then go empty backfield for two plays. Mix in a little no huddle. Throw an I formation with 3 tight ends and go deep to what's his name, number 17, Finley I think it is."
A glimmer of dawn appears on Mr. Davis' face. "Well, yeah, come to think of it, we laid several good ones on the Sooners with that last play, well, at least for a half. Then they covered it." The crestfallen look returned.
"Yeah, of course they did, coach, I mean come on, you gotta keep changing. Use that number 7, Chiles I think it is, on some end around option. Give it to number 25 on a play where all he has to do is go straight up the field as fast as he can. I mean, hey, it worked great last week when you got around to it! Then you can mix in the rollout passes, fades, skinny posts, etc."
Mr Davis responds,"OK OK I get your point, but there's all those blitzes coming at my boy McCoy. We gotta go with the hot reads!"
Dr. Applewhite's face color returns with a vengeance. "I'm sorry sir, but those reads haven't been hot since 1998. Everybody knows exactly where the receivers are going if they so much as wiggle a middle linebacker. There's a lot of other things you can do!" The young man's perspiration had turned to exasperation.
"Ahem," clears the throat of Dr. BON, "Easy now, Dr. Applewhite." He turns to Mr. Davis. "What my esteemed young apprentice is trying to say is that there is only one cure for football Asperger's syndrome."
"And what's that, doc."
"Dictate, sir. Dictate!"
"You have to dictate to the defense. You have to make them guess what you are going to do next. You have to get them stuck in the wrong personnel packages for your play, not the other way around. Yeah, there might be a few mistakes, but you'll be cascading in explosive plays." Dr. BON is looking a bit delirious at this point.
A look of youthful wonder steals across Mr. Davis' face. "Yeah, my boss, Mack, he really likes explosive plays. Cascading! That sounds great! But how doc? How do I change?"
"Well have you been trying?" says the doctor, sobering and peering at Mr. Davis as if trying to X-ray his brain.
"Well, yeah, doc, I mean I've been reading self-help books and all that stuff. I even went in for acupuncture last week! And look where that got me - zippo touchdowns until we accidentally re-discovered the zone read in the fourth quarter!"
"Well I'm sorry to say, Mr. Davis," says the doctor with a knowing, smug look, "but that holistic crap is gonna get you a loss to those hayseed Cowboys up the road in Oklahoma. You need DRUGS! Lots and lots of drugs! Wouldn't you concur Dr. Applewhite?"
The young apprentice nods vigorously with an eager smirk.
"Drugs, doc? Man I hate those things," whines Mr. Davis.
"I insist," intones Dr. BON. "Here, this is a bottle of Change the Formation. I'm instructing you to take one of these every 3 plays. And here, a bottle of Deep Passes - take one spoonful every series. And try this one, some John Chiles tablets, one every quarter. It doesn't matter what you do with him, just get him in the game. Oh and these little red beauties, Run Colt McCoy on a Zone Read, I special-ordered them. Just stick them under your tongue - they work a lot like nitroglycerine. And last, but definitely not least, here are some Go Deep to Finley suppositories. They'll keep working all game long!"
Mr. Davis' long face droops in disappointment. "I feel like a cancer patient. I mean, you could open a bar with that cocktail!"
"Fortunately for you, Mr. Davis, you don't have cancer!" disapproves the doctor. "This is not something you should have to take any longer than, say, the rest of the season. With luck, these will synergistically react with the dendrites in your brain and wash away the fog of football Asperger's syndrome for good. Then you'll be free and clear again, like back in the Vince Young days, only better. Thinking on it now, I can see how Vince and the zone read made your Asperger's worse"
Mr. Davis looks skeptically at the pile of medicine on the examining table. He glances up at Dr. Applewhite, who stares back intently and gives a little fist pump.
"You can do it coach!" urges Dr. Applewhite. "If only you'd showed up for your appointment back in 2000, you could probably have cleared this up years ago." And then I would still have all my ribs intact and a Heisman trophy, he thinks.
As Mr. Davis begins putting the pieces of his gameplan back on, and gathered up his new libations, Dr. Gridiron stares him down. "Now I want to see you back here in two weeks, no excuses. This is serious business! We've got to keep close tabs on you. If you don't come back, I'll just have to show up at ONE OF YOUR PRESS CONFERENCES. Or even worse, write a diatribe on the Burnt Orange Nation blog site. And you WOULDN'T want that, now would you."
In fear, Mr. Davis gulps down one of the red pills.
"Not yet, Mr. Davis, save it for the game!"
As the beleaguered Mr. Davis slips from the room, Dr. BON calls back. "Two weeks!"
"And Mr. Davis?
The pair of doctors are leaning out into the hallway, holding onto the door. Dr. Applewhite is grinning like a little kid with his index and pinky up, and even Dr. BON, he of so much dissatisfaction, is smiling.