I want a custom Cowboys jersey.
I go to NFLshop.com and start entering the name I want on the back of the jersey.
"FEAR THE S"
Hot diggity! The space for the name has a 10 character limit. It appears I can't have "Fear The Star" on the back of my jersey. So I try again.
"FEAR D STA"
Foiled again! I can't come up with any further alternatives. I almost order that version, but decide I don't want to be mistaken for a Saints fan who can't spell worth jack.
When I booked my flights to training camp this year, my travel agent had two options for me to travel from Germany to Los Angeles: One with US Airways with a layover in Philadelphia, one with American Airlines and a layover in Dallas.
I picked the Philly flight.
I then googled "How to get spray paint past airport security in Philadelphia", with the firm intention of spray-painting "Fear The Star" in every stall of all the toilets I could find at the airport.
Ten minutes later, my travel agent called.
"Your reservation just disappeared," he said.
"Well, your name just disappeared from the flight, and I cannot get you back in, even though there are still empty seats."
Prism! The NSA is on to me!
I pick the Dallas flight and reactivate my VPN tunnel via a company on the Seychelles that randomly routes all my internet traffic though servers in Ecuador, Guatemala and Uzbekistan.
The business with the jersey continues to rub me the wrong way, so a few days later I decide to do something about it. I contact Roger Goodell via email, Twitter and Facebook.
No response. Goodell is ignoring me across the entire digital spectrum. It’s like he’s Amish or something.
So I look up the NFL's head office phone number, dial 212-450-2000, and ask to speak to the Commish. The lady on the line says Goodell is unavailable right now, but "we can transfer you to his message center." This is the message I leave for Mr. Goodell:
"Roger, your NFL shop doesn't allow custom jerseys with names of more than 10 characters. That is unacceptable. Fix it."
As I listen to myself talking, I realize my message may be a little abrupt, so I decide to sweeten the deal by offering some free advice:
"Also, to improve the NFL stadium experience, offer free popcorn to guys who take their shirts off when the temperature falls below 20 degrees. And offer girls the same deal regardless of temperature."
I have yet to hear back from the league offices. Very odd.
But I've got endless patience. Goodell is not getting away from me. I once spent two hours on hold with my Cable Supplier's customer service - just to complain about their customer service.
I am not normally a drinker. In fact, I hardly ever drink at all. Until about two months ago, that is. Now I go for a drink almost every night here in Frankfurt.
I have no idea why I do that, but I know that the folks at the Escobar sure appreciate the business.
I look like a mess this morning as a get into the office. Bloodshot eyes, coarse voice and a cough. I got allergies, man, allergies. I also stayed up half the night blogging again, but that's beside the point.
As I get out of the elevator on my floor, I see my French colleague standing there. He looks pristine: freshly shaved, black hair accurately parted on the side, small moustache neatly trimmed. He involuntarily takes a step back when he sees me, but then walks up to me and shakes my hand vigorously.
"Bonjour, mon ami! ‘ow are you zis morning?"
I mumble something about the stars and how they need to be feared.
"Ahaa," he says. "You feel ... 'ow to say zis ... under zee weather?"
That feels like a bonus question, so I decide to quit while I’m ahead and simply walk away, vaguely wondering why I still haven't figured out how to say 'Fear The Star' in French.
I am beginning to suspect that my secretary is on to me. A couple of minutes ago I told her to reschedule a meeting from 9:30 am to 9:19 am, which would make the meeting a Romo to Austin meeting. Her response:
"Get a life."
I need to be more careful. She does not know who Tony Romo and Miles Austin are, but she knows that something is afoot. It seems that the stickers with the Cowboys star that I placed under her chair and under her desk are not having the desired effect.
Personal robots can't get here fast enough.
After a Cowboys win, I like to randomly call sports bars in our opponent's city and have some fun at their expense. This used to be difficult during the offseason. Not anymore.
I google "sports bar Philadelphia". Lots of bars to pick from, so I chose one at random and dial their number.
"Hey, this is Chip Kelly."
"Wha ... THE Chip Kelly?"
"Yes. I'd like to book a table."
"Sure Mr. Kelly. Any time."
"I'd like a table for four at 8.00 pm. I may run a little late tonight so could you keep the table free at least until 9.00 pm in case I don't make it on time?"
"Of course, sir."
"Also, can you make sure you're playing Duran Duran songs when I come in?"
"Duran?? ... no problem, Coach!"
I hang up. I am a great fan of Duran Duran. Apparently, Chip Kelly is too. And one hour of listening to Duran Duran will make even Philadelphia a better place.
A couple of weeks ago, I started taking a marker pen with me every time I go shopping at one of the local German equivalents of a Best Buy. First thing I do when I enter the store is head for the DVD/Blu-Ray section and look for the Kevin Bacon film "Hollow Man". If I find one, I take out my pen and cross out the "w".
Nobody in Germany will ever figure out what this is about.
My ex-wife calls me at the office. "Listen," she says, like I'm a moron who doesn't. "You're flying to the States in a couple of weeks, right?"
I am the one who gave her this information. Why she would now ask me that question is beyond me. I wait her out. She hates it when I do that. So I do it all the time.
"Our son needs some new clothes," she eventually continues. "Can I send you a list of things he needs, and you buy them over there?"
"But don't buy him any football stuff!"
I hang up.
And immediately google the address of the NFL shop nearest to my hotel in the States.
The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on. Fear The Star.
If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy the previous iterations of these posts (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV)
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- Barry Church Gearing Up For Pro Bowl Season
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- Dallas Cowboys' Tony Romo: "We're going to be pretty good this year."
- Dallas Cowboys 2013 Training Camp Battles: Let's Get Ready To Rumble
- Looking Back: Bruce Carter's Path To The Dallas Cowboys