Darren Sharper was out for his daily afternoon constitutional when he spotted an old woman looking forlornly up at a tree in her front yard.
"Excuse me, miss, do you need some help?"
"Oh, yes, thank you. My cat, Marty, is stuck in the tree. Do you think you could get him down?"
"Not a problem."
And up Darren went. The cat wasn't too far up, but he clearly wasn't happy about where he was. Right as reached over to pick the feline up and carry it down, Marty let out a shriek, and jumped, shocking Darren and sending them both tumbling to the ground.
He opened his eyes a few seconds later to see the woman standing concernedly over him, holding her cat.
"Are you alright? I'm so sorry for Marty's behavior. Usually he's sooo good."
Darren gingerly sat up, took a deep breath then stood up. After declining the woman's invitation for cookies and milk, he started his trek back home, stopping only to look at the old Delorean that someone had parked on his block. That was odd--he didn't know people still drove those things.
*The Next Day*
He was still a little sore the next morning, so he stopped by the trainer's office to get checked out. Turned out it was nothing more then a few small bruises. That wasn't the only thing that was bothering him though. He'd been on edge since he'd fallen. Something just felt wrong. And ever since he'd arrived at Winter Park, he'd felt a weird vibe. The other players looked tense, depressed even. It was all so weird; they were on a four game winning streak. They'd been upbeat all week in practice. Just yesterday, the team had cracked when Brad had pantsed Kluwe. And then the chase afterward? Even the coaches had been laughing at the punter trying to chase Brad with his shorts around his ankles.
Something told Darren that wasn't going to be happening again today.
"Where's Coach Tice? He's got to do something to loosen this team up. Maybe we can put a fan at guard again. I bet he'd do better then what's his name. The guy with the pulled groin."
The trainer just looked at him funny, put his head down, and walked away. Well, if the trainers were going to act weird, he'd go find Corey. Corey'd help him loosen the team up.
"Yo, CC! We got to lighten things up around here! Where's Tice? I bet he'd help out. I have a sick plan--you know the dance to Thriller?"
"What is wrong with you man? Where's Tice? Why'd you have to bring that up? Darren, you know he got fired last week. The Z-Dawg wasn't going to put up with him anymore, not with the scandals, the blowout losses. I'd have fired him too--3-8 just ain't good enough man. And they said we were going to the Super Bowl."
"WHAA!!! 3-8? But...But...We're 6-5. I'm the Defensive Player of the Month! What are you talking about?"
"Defensive Player of the Month? Man, maybe if you hadn't dropped that pick on Eli. I bet you'd have housed it, if you'd watched it in to your hands. You got to step it up man. You could probably have had like 6-7 picks this month."
"But I did! I punked Eli! Remember? Punt, kickoff, pick, all for TDs? I started that man."
"No, you didn't. Stop clowning around. Coach Cottrell's gonna be mad if we're late. Especially after we blew that game to the Browns. It's too bad Big Pat got hurt--he'd have shut the Droughns guy down."
Darren whirled around--could it be true? Were they really 3-8? How? Why? And then, something caught his eye. And he knew. There was a picture of a Delorean hanging above his locker.
"Man, this is some crazy Twilight Zone, Back to the Future type stuff", he muttered. "What's happened since I dropped that pick?"
"Giants scored next play. And like a billion times after. Kinda depressing really. Big Pat got hit in the side of the knee and went down, Daunte like. Favre and the Pack put a hurt on us on national TV. We were still reeling from the embarrassment from the week before. And then, well, Zygi lost it. He cleaned house--Tice and Loney. The consultants. All of 'em gone. Cottrell got promoted, but he knows as well as we do that he's gone after the season. We weren't even there for the Browns game. Droughns ran over us like he was Barry frickin Sanders. Man, it's embarrassing. Nobody wants to be here anymore. I can't even take it."
Darren didn't respond. His mind was racing. This was ridiculous. He hadn't dropped that pass. What happened? Why? Things were starting to close in on him now. Everything was wrong. Why? Why? What did he do to deserve this? He had to get out of there. He had to escape. He turned to start running...
He felt something cold and wet hit his face. He looked up--the old lady was holding her cat.
"Oh, good, you're awake. I was worried there for a second. You took a nasty fall there."
Darren abruptly sat up, practically yelling at the lady, "Are you a Vikings fan? What's the Vikings' record? Did we beat the Giants? I have to know!"
"Calm down, son. Take a breath. I'm a huge Vikings fan. Have been since they started back in '61. They're 6-5. They beat the Giants a few weeks ago. I really think you might need to go the hospital, though. Sounds like you might have hit your head."
Darren jumped up, smiling and enveloped her in a huge bear hug. It had only been a dream. He'd intercepted Eli. He'd housed it. Everything was right in the world. It was only a dream....