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The Talent

By Carter All Rights Reserved ©



The Talent is an action-packed page turner that tells the story of a phenomenally gifted football player whose determination to win on the field might cause him to lose everything, including his life. Drew Harris thought he knew everything there was to know about football, but what he didn’t know about the games off the field almost cost him everything he loved – his girl, his best friend, and his chances of going pro. How could it be his destiny to hit rock bottom and land himself in rehab? He had a beautiful, devoted girlfriend who understood the demands of sports because she was a talented athlete herself. Drew had a best friend who had been playing football with him from childhood to college. He also had a father he knew nothing about, a father who had the same incredible gift for football, the same arrogance and drive to compete ... and the same weakness for drugs. Will Drew’s thirst for football and his need to be the best, keep him at the top of the football chain? Will he walk away with a Heisman and be a top NFL draft pick, or will his bad choices challenge him too much to succeed? The games are awesome and the hits are vicious, but what is going to become of ‘The

Untitled chapter

Jason Stallings opens his eyes and realizes that he is on his back and looking up into some very bright lights. He wonders if this might be it and if he is on his way to the pearly gates. Then he hears a voice say, “Are you okay, Jay?” Blinking his eyelids several times until things start to become clearer, he can now hear more voices talking around him. He realizes that he had just been sacked and the force had knocked him out for a few seconds. There are players, coaches, and medical staff all around him, asking him many questions. The general questions like “Are you okay?” and “Are you hurt anywhere?” begin to register as his eyes open and he starts looking around. Jason does not respond immediately because he doesn’t know what to say yet. He starts wiggling his feet, his legs, and the rest of his body. He is checking to see if he has any injuries or if he just took a big hit. Jason responds with the popular, “Yeah, I’m okay” and starts to get up off the ground with help from his teammates. The football crowd has been silent until the great quarterback Jason Stallings rises from one of the best, most violent hits the crowd has ever seen. They clap and cheer as Jason starts to walk off the field. The cheers, getting louder, drown out the worry and disappointed moans of the fans. They realize that they have probably just lost their starting quarterback in the most important game of the season, the Super Bowl.

The AFC New York Lightning and the NFC California Cougars have won their respective conferences and are now playing in the Super Bowl, the biggest game of the year. Half the crowd favors the Cougars, the team that Stallings plays for, and they are wondering who is going to finish the game as quarterback. Is it going to the backup, or will Stallings return to fulfill his destiny and win the game for the Cougars? The score is tied, and there are four minutes left in the game. The Cougars liked their chances with Stallings there to drive the ball down and score the last few points to end the game. But this does not look like the fairytale ending they were hoping for. Stallings is walking gingerly off the field, even staggering at times. He was hit hard and probably has a slight concussion. Jason gets to the sidelines, and the medical staff sit him on the bench and begin a series of physical assessments. Jason has his head down but raises it in time to see that his head coach is talking to their backup QB. He knows that the backup is the only choice they have at this time until they know if he can go back out on the field. He answers the level of consciousness questions correctly as given by the medical staff but does not want to let them know the symptoms that he is having. With today’s football rules, if there are any neurological signs of a head concussion, then the player is not able to return to the game. Jason knows this and does not want the doctors to know that he is experiencing nausea, dizziness, and ringing in his ears. These symptoms and the fact that he has no memory of the vicious hit leads him to believe he has a concussion.

Stallings is a tough quarterback who has always been able to bounce back from any hits. This one was a big one. Jason received a direct helmet-to-helmet hit that rendered him unconscious as he fell to the ground, hitting his head again. He told the doctor that he was not knocked out but merely dazed and was trying to gain his bearings when they approached him. The medical staff is not convinced but knows that Stalling will do anything to help his team bring home a Super Bowl win for the fans. Stallings grabs some water and starts to walk around with the doctors following right behind him. They are watching his every move. Stallings peeks at the field, where his offensive teammates are about to resume play. With four minutes left in the game, the Cougars have the ball on their own 20 yard line, where Stallings was sacked on the first play of the offensive series. After the two yard loss from the sack, the Cougars now have the ball on the 18 yard line, with 82 yards to go for a touchdown. A field goal could win them the game if they can stop the other team from scoring or just run out the clock. As one of the best quarterbacks in football history, Jason Stallings has two Super Bowl wins already and an impeccable QB rating. Stallings has broken some QB records including most passing touchdowns and most career passing yards. He is already on his way to the Hall of Fame and will be considered one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game. At 6’6” and 255 pounds, Stallings is a beast on the field. The boy was born with natural talent and had been aggressively recruited his entire young career. Jason knew he would be a star because that was the way he had planned it. He worked hard and had the will and drive to become the best. The scenario of four minutes left and Stallings with the football with the score tied has been a familiar situation for both the team and the fans. Stallings has 11 fourth quarter comeback wins in his 10-year career with the Cougars, but at this point, it does not look like Stallings is coming back in. The backup QB, Trevor Wright, is saying the cadence at the line of scrimmage and getting ready to try to make his mark on the Super Bowl. He is excited yet nervous about the responsibility he has just been given. He stands in, gives the final words, and then hands off the ball to the running back. The running back gets seven yards and is then taken down by some of the best linebackers in the game. The Lightning defense is ranked number one in the NFL, a great fantasy football asset to have. The Cougars are reluctant to throw the ball with the Lightning defense and the backup quarterback at the helm. But it is third down, and they are five yards away from a first down. They are deep into their own territory and don’t need to lose anymore yardage. The team huddles, and the play is called. The players walk up to the line of scrimmage and are getting ready for a big play. The QB calls out and is looking around for changes he needs to make on the play as the play clock winds down and Wright snaps the ball. He backpedals and fakes a handoff to the running back, who begins blocking for the QB. It is a play action play. Wright goes back to throw and sees his tight end over the middle open. He steps forward and makes the throw. The ball ends up behind the tight end and in the hands of the defender—interception. As the opposing player snags the ball and weaves in and out of defenders to make his way to the end zone and score a touchdown, the Lightning crowd goes wild and knows that now their team is probably going to win the Super Bowl. The extra point is made, and now the Lightning has a sevenpoint touchdown lead with 3 minutes and 24 seconds to go in the game. Stallings sees the play and says to himself, “What a loser.” He goes over to one of the wide receivers and asks him to throw with him. He wants to warm up because he is going back in. The head coach looks over and sees that he is warming up and walks over to him. The Cougars and Lightning are getting ready for the kick off, and at this point, Wright will be going back to complete the game. Coach Parr storms over to question Stallings. “Stallings, what do you think you are doing?” asks the coach. “I’m going back in, coach. I could have made that throw with my eyes closed, and you know it. I’m going back in,” Stallings insists, continuing to throw the ball. “No you’re not. You have not been cleared by the docs yet. Now sit back down,” says Coach Parr firmly. “Go ask them yourself. I’m cleared, and I’m going back in,” states Jason. “We don’t have much time, but I’ll ask them. If what you say is true, then get the team together and get ready,” says the coach as he starts to walk off. “I was born ready,” replies a cocky Stallings. He throws a couple more and then waves his receiver on over. He explains to him that he is going back into the game and to get the guys together for a huddle before they get on the field. The offensive players, coaches, and others are standing around Stallings in this huddle as he begins to speak. “Okay, guys. I’m back,” says Stallings as he receives cheers from his players. When the fans learn that Stallings is going back into the game, there will be roars like you have never heard when they see number twelve back on the field. “I just needed a break. Besides, we needed a little drama to this Super Bowl.” Stallings grins as the players laugh and then listen to their leader. “We are going to play our two-minute offense for the rest of this series. Let’s go down, tie it up, and go into overtime to make this one of the most memorable Super Bowls ever!” yells Stallings. The team screams, “Go Cougars” and then retreats to the field, where the kickoff unit has put them at the 20 yard line. It was a touchback. The offense runs on the field while Stallings struts behind them. As expected, the crowd goes crazy with the camera crews focused on him as his image is projected to the jumbo-tron. Stallings walks up next to his left guard, Mark Mullens. “Hey, Mark. If you let Ashford around the corner again to sack me, then I’m going to kill your dog. Now get out there, do the job that we are paying you to do, and protect my ass. Let me win this game,” Stallings growls as he walks away. Mullens does not say a word because he knows that it was his fault that James Ashford, the left defensive end, sacked Stallings. And the tone of Stallings’ voice and the threat is nothing that Mullens has not heard before. The team huddles and Stallings gives the final instructions. The crowd is so loud that the offense can barely hear each other talk. Jason waves his arms in an attempt to quiet the crowd. The Cougars fans stop the madness, but the Lightning fans continue to disturb the offense. Stallings is now screaming out the cadence, and the play begins. The first play is a play action pass over the middle to the tight end—right on the mark for a gain of eight yards. Stallings called this play to show the team and fans that he is the man and that he would have never thrown that interception like Wright did. He called the exact same play that Wright called, eyeing down Wright on the sidelines. This play took only nine seconds off the play clock, leaving the QB with three minutes and 16 seconds left before calling a timeout with two more timeouts remaining. Stallings should not have called a timeout after this play, but he wanted to make a statement with that throw. “Okay, that felt good. Now let’s take this thing home. Twominute drill. Let’s get it done. Break!” yells Stallings, and the players clap their hands and disperse to their positions. The next plays consist of a combination of running plays and throwing plays. Most of them are passing plays, but Stallings throws in some running plays to throw off the defense. Time is ticking down, but Stallings is using it wisely. They end up first and goal on the seven-yard line with 26 seconds to go. Stallings is able to huddle and call a play. They break and begin the play. It is a pass over in the corner to the wide receiver, who just misses the ball as it falls off his fingertips. The players huddle back for second down. “Jackson, what the hell happened, man?” Stallings asks quickly. “I almost had it, Jay, but it fell off my fingers,” replies Travon Jackson, the wide out. “If it hits your fingers, then you can catch it. It is time to step up, dude,” says Stallings condescendingly as he calls the next play. The huddle breaks, and the players get set up for the next play that might tie them with the Lightning. The crowd is now getting louder and louder as the Cougars gets closer to scoring. Stallings gives the signal, and the play begins. It is a run to the left side of the line, but the tailback is stopped at the one-yard line. The team has to scramble and get ready for the next play because they are out of timeouts. The clock ticks down as Stallings snaps the ball. It is a passing play, but Stallings can’t find anyone open. He scrambles and avoids two tackles. He has Ashford heading straight for him when he sees Jackson coming across the middle and back of the end zone. He fires, and a strike is thrown right into the chest of Jackson. Jackson holds onto the ball, and the Cougars have scored bringing them to within one point of tying the game. The players, coaches, and crowd are all excited. The only thing left is the extra point. Both teams send out their special team players, ready to tie the game. Stallings is the holder as he always is. The ball is snapped high, and Stallings is not able to get the ball down in time for the kick because the defense sent everyone to block the kick; everything needed to go as planned or they would have problems. Stallings holds onto the ball and picks it up to run with it. The kicker goes through his kicking motion to throw any defensive players off. Stallings is fast and quick and starts to run to the left of the end zone. The defense is following him; it is a race to the goal line. Jason sees that he might not make it because he has three players closing in on him. Before the players can touch him, he grabs the ball up high and jumps over the heads of the defensive players who are going down low to his waist and legs to tackle him. Other than hitting a couple of shoulder pads along the way, Stallings jumps completely over the tacklers and scores a two-point conversion. The Cougars have won the Super Bowl. The Cougars leave the benches, clear the sidelines, and gather in the middle of the field to celebrate. The two head coaches reach the middle as well and give their “good game” hand shake. After the duties are done, Coach Parr starts to congratulate all his players. He eventually finds Stallings, who is covered with players and media. Parr walks over to Jason, and they both stand there, looking at each other. “You are crazy. But I like it. Nice job, son,” says Parr to Jason and then grabs him for a hug. Stallings returns the hug with a huge squeeze, picking up the coach. They all continue to celebrate until the final proceedings take place. Stallings is up on a platform along with the coach, the owner, and the NFL commissioner. The awards are about to be given. The Cougars receives their championship trophy and the honor of back to back Super Bowl titles. Stallings gets his moment with the trophy and then passes it down to his teammates to boast. The award of MVP (most valuable player) is the next to be announced. Stallings figures he is getting the award because he is the one standing on the platform. He received this MVP honor at the last Super Bowl when he beat the opposing team by three touchdowns. The announcement is made, and Jason Stallings is receiving the MVP award once again. He was 24 of 32 with 426 yards passing, four touchdowns, and one running. These are definitely MVP stats. He was injured and most likely suffered a concussion and yet returned to complete and win the game. This MVP honor is only one more to add to Jason’s great career. And at age 30, he does not seem to be slowing down. He is handed the microphone from the commissioner, who congratulates him. Jason gives a long, memorable speech acknowledging his wife, family, God (for giving him his natural talents), and of course the coach and his teammates. After the recognition is over and the fans are satisfied, Stallings and the rest step down from the platform. Spotting his wife in the crowd, he walks over to her. They both embrace and begin to kiss. Jason and his wife have been together for 12 years and are still going strong. They have had their share of troubles but always seem to be able to conquer them all. Jason and Kim met at SMU, Southern Methodist University, where they both received degrees in marketing. Jason went on to play for the California Cougars after he won the Heisman Trophy and became the first pick of the NFL draft. They don’t have any children yet but have been trying to conceive for the last year. Jason and Kim eventually stop their embrace and release their holds. Jason has lipstick marks on his cheek, and Kim now has sweat rings on her shirt from Jason. They both really don’t care what they look like because their football dreams have just come true once again. Jason gives Kim a goodbye kiss and says, “I’ll see you later at the hotel!” Kim smiles at him and says, “I’m so proud of you.” They turn and walk in different directions. Stallings is then mobbed by camera crews and media of all sorts. They can’t wait to talk and interview the MVP and winning quarterback of the Super Bowl. Stallings and many other players do their duties and give the media and the fans their attention.

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