Dear Diary: Doug Free

Dear Diary:

It's me again, Doug. I know I haven't written in a while, but I was pretty busy with the season and all. It didn't turn out as well as we had hoped. Finished 8-8.....One game out of the playoffs. It was disappointing to say the least. But, Diary, like my father used to say, "You're a useless pile of wasted flesh". Still not sure what he meant by that. But, then again, I never did understand Dad's humor. People would laugh when he said it, though. Mom, my brothers and sisters, Grandma, Pastor Roberts.....So it must have been funny.

After a season like this, those prescious childhood memories give me a much-needed smile. The family would gather in the den, play cards, board games or watch TV. It was a special time of my youth. Like it was yesterday, I can still hear their voices and laughter echoing through the house, drifting down to me in my hole under the porch. The only break in their jocularity came when they would pause to feed me scraps through the clapboards. We were very close.

The seemingly endless hours of Hide-n-Seek brought us even closer together. No one ever found me. Ever. I would scamper back to the house in the middle of the night and everyone was already tucked away in bed---spent from their exhaustive and fruitless search. Crawling under the porch into my cozy niche, I reveled in my triumph. They claimed they never really searched for me, but I knew better. I couldn't blame them for trying to save face. Living up to my example must have been rough.

I cherish the times my siblings and I spent together. Holding the target in front of me while they practiced with their pellet guns.....Balancing a can on my head when they dragged out their bows and arrows.....Standing perfectly still and never flinching when it was time for their martial arts training and they needed a man-shaped punching and kicking dummy. We were inseperable. It's a shame we had to grow up. We see so little of each other now. There always seems to be some kind of mishap preventing the family from spending time together. For instance, we were going to spend the holidays as a family at my brother's house. I drove all day and when I got there, plans had changed at the last minute and they moved it to my sister's place. I drove all night and found out when I arrived that circumstances had forced a change. They were now in Aspen. By the time I got to Colorado, everyone had already left and gone back to their homes. I couldn't believe my bad luck. Something silly always pops up. I have to laugh.

Sorry, Diary. It wasn't my intention to take a stroll down memory lane. There's more important current news to tell you. For a season-ending gift, Tony Romo gave the offensive linemen---and their spouses or girlfriends---an all-expense paid vacation to the Bahamas. It included a chartered fishing trip for the guys and a full day of spa treatment for the ladies. I hear everyone had a great time. I got a fruit basket. Tony's thoughtfulness knows no bounds. He's aware of my aversion to water and my love of fruit. The bananas were a little brown.....The oranges were a pretty shade of green and trifle squishy.....The grapes looked like raisins.....And the raisins looked like mouse droppings---at least I think they were raisins.....But the apples were plump and crunchy---the worms seemed to like them. It's difficult to get fresh fruit this time of year, so I'll give Tony props for the effort. A more devoted friend I've never had.

I went to the post office this morning to pick up my fan mail. Hadn't been in a while and decided to clean out the PO box to make room for more. There were three. After talking to a rather stressed little man regarding the whereabouts of the rest of my fan mail, I can only surmise the bulk of the correspondence had been misplaced. I scraped my new friend's spittle off my chin and schlepped my three letters home. One was dated from 2010---must have been stuck in the back. It was from a young boy who had been in an ATV accident and was in a wheelchair while rehabbing. He said I was his favorite player and wanted nothing more than to walk into Cowboys Stadium some day to watch me in person. These are the kinds of letters that make all the hard work worth it. To be the inspiration for the youth of America makes me realize how much responsibility we, as football players, have on our shoulders. My chest swelled with pride.

The second letter, oddly enough, was from the same young boy. Only this one was dated from November of 2012. He said after two years of rehab, my play on the field this season was the reason he had been able to walk six months ahead of schedule. He made it to Cowboys Stadium like he had dreamed, but was turned away because they don't allow firearms in the building. Can you believe it? He was bringing me a gift in thanks for being his hero. I'll make a note to myself in reminder to pay that special young man a personal visit. Boy, that'll make his day. His hero, Doug Free, walking through his front door. It's great being me.

The third letter was from my mom. She said I was an embarassment to her and my father. She said the best thing I could do for the family as a whole would be to change my name, give up football and donate my pathetic, lard-encrusted butt to some third-world nation. Apparently, Mom thinks it could feed a small village for over a year. Don't worry about my estate, she said. She believes it would be in the best interest of all concerned to divide the money amongst Cowboys season ticket holders to alleviate the stress they've suffered having to watch me play. You know, it does my heart good to see Dad's sense of humor rubbing off on Mom. After reading the letter, I called Mom to let her know I appreciated the levity. She spit into the phone and told me to lose her number. She gets funnier every day. God, I love my family. They're the best.

Well, Diary, that's enough for today. I have to make a run to Valley Ranch. Coach Garrett sent me a text saying he needed to see me at once. Guess he couldn't wait for the Spring workouts to see his favorite player. Not sure why he wanted me to bring my playbook, though. Oh well, maybe he wants to give me a heads up on scheme changes for the upcoming season. Good idea to give your best O-lineman a preview. Probably wants my input. Can't blame him, really. He knows what side of his bread is buttered. I envy him having someone with my ability to lean on.

Until next time, Diary. If I were you, I'd be missing me already. This is Doug signing off.

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