Niko Porikos grew up in an NTDP billet home. Cool story.
A Historical Fiction piece i wrote for my Creative Writing course, it could only be five pages, but would have been around 8 if i could have done what i wanted.
Teammates, and Champions
Charles walked along Main Street in Ann Arbor, Michigan on a gloomy August day, there he saw the infamous Big House; 106,000 empty seats waiting eagerly for the 1997 season to start. He thought to himself, “I can’t wait for this season, man, they have no clue.” He started jogging back to his dorm to eat, then get ready for bed after a long day of lifting, class, practice, then film; the almost unbearable life of a college football star. His roommate and teammate, Andre Weathers, was watching film on his vintage TV that his mother bought him the year before. Last season Andre struggled learning the new defense and his confidence was a little shook. He would always turn to Charles for advice, whether he could act on that advice would be up to him though. During the 1996 season CB Charles Woodson was finishing up his second year as Michigan’s starting defensive back. He was considered one of the best in the country at the position his Freshman and Sophomore years and many analyst docked him as an All-American, multiple award-winning, first round draft pick.
The opponent they faced first was the Colorado Buffaloes, a team who was large, experienced, and extremely well coached. The weekend was four days away. Michigan was in Schembechler Hall, named after the beloved Bo Schembechler. The team meeting was held there every Tuesday and was ran by Coach Car, a handsome and very intriguing older man who seemed to knew every button to push on every player. A motivator is the simplest way to put it, but to people who knew him he’s much more. Halfway through the meeting as Car is explaining the motto of the season “Trust, Leadership, Willpower”
which was engrained in every player as if it was their very favorite childhood memory, Charles Woodson stood up on his older broken desk and shouted to his teammates,
“This is OUR year, and this is MY year, this YOUR year, and together WE will make history!” Teammates cheered “Yeah Woodson!” “Hell yeah boys! Let’s win this for Michigan.”
The team rallied around coach Car and sang the notorious fight song “Hail to the Victors” as they jousted their venerated Coach into the air. The night ended on a great note and the feeling was in the air. It was their year.
That same night Charles was lying in his bed when he heard the fuzzy TV on out in their small living room. He was confused as to why it was playing and clearly remembered turning it off right before he went to bed. He went to check, and what he saw filled him with a great sense of pride. At 2 A.M. Andre was watching film on Colorado.
Andre and Charles went to bed, with visions of a National Championship dancing in their heads.
The week went by at a rapid pace and it was game day. The noon kickoff was approaching fast and the fans had been tailgating since 6 in the morning. The whole campus was buzzing as the 17
th ranked Wolverines faced the 8th ranked Buffaloes from the beautiful city of Boulder. ESPN was talking about the game the whole week, as it was one of the premier matchups of opening day. People were football hungry and it showed. Every game that was played that week had very detailed write-ups and predictions of the score. The Michigan-Colorado write-up was very one sided with the 5 analyst predicting the Buff’s to win easily in Ann Arbor. A quote from E. Jackson, who was the Ann Arbor Free Press sportswriter, was being read aloud by Charles in the locker room just 5 minutes before kickoff, “Colorado stomps Michigan, 38-12.” The players were pissed and rallied up together. Quarterback Brian Griese was giving a very emotional, heart-felt speech. The team was fired up, and ready to tap the “M Club Supports You” banner, a tradition held for many years. As the Maize-and-Blue clad ran out of the tunnel you could hear 106,000 fans cheering for what seemed like miles. Kick off was here.
Michigan jumped out to a 10-0 lead at the half, and the energy in the stadium was appreciable. The defense was relying on the tough man-to-man defense from Charles and Andre. They had locked down the Buff’s receivers all half with only 3 receptions total. In the locker room, Coach Car applauded the team and inspired them to fight on, and win the second half as well. The Wolverines did just that as they cruised to a 27-3 stomping of Colorado. The Michigan defense didn’t give up a touchdown thanks to the great play of the veteran secondary. The hard work of both Charles and Andre paid off. In a post-game interview, E. Jackson caught up with Woodson just before he ran into the tunnel.
Jackson asked Woodson, “What did the defense do today to stump the highly potent Colorado offense?
Woodson responded briefly and quickly “It’s our year. Thanks for doubting us.” Charles then ran off into the tunnel with his winged helmet held high.
The Wolverines went on to win their next 5 games. 6-0 heading in to State week Charles thought to himself, halfway there. Woodson was excelling on the field, with 32 tackles, and 4
interceptions. As a defense they hadn’t gave up more than 24 points in a single game. That score coming from the always tough Iowa Hawkeyes. Notre Dame was the next closest, with only 14 points. Michigan was ranked in the top 8 and people started giving them a close look, as a possible contender in not only the Big Ten, but in the National picture as well.
Andre Weathers was also playing extremely well, and posted a respectable 22 tackles with 2 interceptions. The Junior corner was no longer struggling; instead, strutting himself around campus. They felt like kings, and in some aspects, were treated as such.
Michigan was prepared to play the in-state rival Spartans. Some viewed the Michigan St Spartans as the Wolverines “little brother” in terms of results on the field, and academically. The Spartans came into the game with a 2-4 record, something the Wolverines shouldn’t have scoffed at. To MSU players this was their National Championship.
Charles Woodson was a target for the Spartans as he told the local news, “Michigan St is formed up of players that Michigan didn’t want, that Ohio didn’t want. Classless, dirty players, they go against everything we stand for.” Coach Car heard these comments on the News and was pissed, calling the young Woodson on the phone.
“What the hell were you thinking Charles? You can’t go around talking to the news like you have no repercussions! Are you trying to get us killed Saturday?” Charles started to respond, but Coach told him to shut up, “I’m sorry but I’m going to have to sit you for the first half.”
Coach Car hung up the phone. Charles was sitting on his small bed in his apartment, Andre asked him what was going on and he told him the he was sitting the first half of the State game. Andre went on thinking in his head… You’ve got to be kidding me...
Prentavious Jones-Darbo would be taking his spot, the highly touted Freshman from Santa-
Monica, California. Half-way through the second quarter, Jones-Darbo was completely toasted by the State receiver and the Wolverines ran into halftime trailing 7-0 to the rival Spartans.
Michigan started the third quarter with the ball, driving 78 yards on just 6 plays for a quick score tying it all up. The Spartans next drive was ended shortly, as Woodson jumped nearly four feet into the air and snagged the ball with one hand, tip-toeing his foot down right before it hit the sideline. The Wolverine crowd erupted and the momentum shifted. The Wolverines went on effortlessly to shut the Spartans out the second half going on to win the Paul Bunyan Trophy, 23-7. Wolverine players ran onto midfield with the Olde Paul Bunyan Trophy, and sang “Hail to the Victors” as loud as their voices could raise, Michigan had triumphed Little Brother again.
Michigan was 8-0. Charles Woodson was in the running for one of the most prestigious awards known to man, and Ann Arbor was now the place to be. Michigan went on to win their next four games which included a drubbing over 8th ranked Penn St 34-8 in State College. The Wolverine faithful was rocking and the college football world was in awe of the 2nd ranked Wolverines.
December 17th, 1996. “Standing on that podium, hoisting the Heisman trophy was a dream of mine, a dream turned reality, congratulations to the guys that were up there with me.”
Charles won the Heisman trophy, and was the first defensive player to ever do so. He truly was in a class of his own. Michigan had Washington St in the Rose bowl, which would determine if Michigan won the National Championship.
The Wolverines and Charles were unstoppable. Michigan was the team everyone wanted to be, everyone wished their season had turned out like the beloved Wolverines. Coach Car was AP coach of the year, an honor that was highly respected. Michigan beat Washington St in that Rose Bowl. They were the undefeated National Champions.
Running into the locker room the Wolverines sang “Hail to the Victors” one last time.
Charles spoke to the team, “Before this season started I knew we were going to win it all. Thank you guys for allowing me to win the Heisman and a National Championship!” the team broke out in cheers.
Coach Car proceeded to tell his athletes, “I am so gracious for this team. I have NEVER, and I mean NEVER, been more proud to coach the men in this room.” Coach Car started crying and gave the crystal ball, the trophy of the champions, to Andre Weathers. Andre shook his head in disbelief.
“Hey Charles, get your fancy ass over here.” Andre said. Charles and Andre held the crystal ball over their heads in a way only a champion could do.
The Raiders put a mike on Chuck last night. Man, the guy still has some serious passion for the game.
Last night, someone posted about Charles creating the 50/20 Club - over 50 interceptions and 20 sacks. He is the founding member.
Charles Woodson notched his 20th career sack tonight making him the 1st player in NFL history to have 50+ career interceptions (58) and 20 career sacks. Only one other player is even in the 40/20 club: Ronde Barber with 47 INTs and 28 sacks.
HISTORY: Charles Woodson becomes the first player in NFL history with 50 interceptions and 20 sacks pic.twitter.com/ogZkIEU3Xy— NFL on ESPN (@ESPNNFL) November 21, 2014
Let me know what I missed, or if you have any more insight that I can add.
Week 9 Notes: Jordan Kovacs was signed by the Dolphins! Alan Branch picked up by New England.
Tom Brady (1997-99) | Patriots, Starting QB (W 43-21 vs. DEN)
- Very impressive game from Brady: 33/53 for 333 yards, 4 TDs and 1 INT. Was sacked once.
- Brady passed John Elway for fifth on the all-time passing yards list, with 51,541. He has also won 42 straight home games vs. AFC teams.
- For the year, Brady is 214/334 for 2,392 yards, 22 TDs with 3 interceptions.
Denard Robinson (2009-12) | @denardx | Jaguars, RB (L 33-23 vs. CIN)
- 3rd straight game as feature back, 3rd straight impressive game. 94 yards rushing on 17 attempts (long of 39), and 1 rushing TD. Also caught a 12-yard pass.
- Has started 3 games this year, has rushed for 423 yards on 85 carries, and has 14 receptions for 57 yards. Robinson has zero fumbles, compared to 3 fumbles on 20 rushing attempts last year.
Jason Avant (2002-05) | Panthers, WR (L 28-10 vs. NO)
- 1 catch for 8 yards.
- In his first year with the Panthers, Avant has made 20 catches on 29 targets for 193 yards, and 1 TD.
Junior Hemingway (2007-11) | @younghemi21 | Chiefs, Backup WR (W 24-10 vs. NYJ)
- 2 catches for 9 yards.
- In 8 games, Hemingway has 10 receptions for 98 yards.
Michael Cox (2008-11) | @mikecox1mill | Giants, KR (MNF vs. IND)
- Returned kicks for 33 yards.
- Has played 3 games, exclusively in kick returning duties.
Patrick Omameh (2009-12) | @patrickomameh | Buccaneers, Starting G (L 22-17 vs. CLE)
- QB was sacked twice.
- Has started all 8 games this year.
Steve Schilling (2007-10) | Seahawks, Backup G (W 30-24 vs. OAK)
- Started, although he was questionable due to knee injury—QB was sacked once.
- In his first year with Seattle, has started 4 straight games.
Alan Branch (2004-07) | Patriots, Backup NT (W 43-21 vs. DEN)
- Played a handful of snaps, no statistics.
- Was picked up by NE on Wednesday, and only got two practices in before the game.
- Had a career year in 2013 with Buffalo, but was cut in fall camp due to failed condiitioning test and getting a DUI.
Tim Jamison (2005-08) | Texans, Backup DE (L 31-21 vs. PHI)
- 2 tackles.
- Has started 1 of 9 games this year. Jamison has recorded 13 tackles, 1 recovered fumble, and half of a sack.
Brandon Graham (2006-09) | @brandongraham55 | Eagles, Backup LB (W 31-21 vs. HOU)
- 2 tackles, 1 sack. Played 13 passing downs and had 5 QB hurries.
- Has not started yet this year, but has 20 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 TFLs, and 3 forced fumbles in 8 games.
Kenny Demens (2009-12) | @kdemens25 | Cardinals, Backup ILB (W 28-17 vs. DAL)
- 1 tackle.
- In 8 games played, Demens has recorded 6 tackles and 2 forced fumble.
Larry Foote (1998-2001) | @larryfoote313 | Cardinals, Starting MLB (W 28-17 vs. DAL)
- 5 tackles.
- Has started all 8 games in his first year with Arizona, recording 41 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 INT so far.
David Harris (2004-06) | Jets, Starting ILB (L 24-10 vs. KC)
- 4 tackles.
- In 9 starts, Harris has recorded 68 tackles and 1 forced fumble.
Leon Hall (2003-06) | Bengals, Starting CB (W 33-23 vs. JAX)
- 5 tackles. Was injured on a hit to the head, questionable for next week.
- Has 39 tackles and 1 interception in 8 starts.
Charles Woodson (1995-97) | Raiders, Starting FS (L 30-24 vs. SEA)
- 5 tackles.
- Has 50 tackles and 2 interceptions in 8 games.
Stevie Brown (2006-09) | @steviebrown27 | Giants, Backup FS (MNF vs IND)
- Brown tore his ACL and missed the 2013 season, and has started 3 games this year. He has amassed 13 tackles in 7 games.
Taylor Lewan (2009-13) | @taylorlewan77 | Titans, Starting T (Bye Week)
- Started third consecutive game.
Mike Martin (2008-11) | @gomikemartin | Titans, Backup DE (Bye Week)
- Started two games this year, with 10 tackles.
Ryan Mundy (2003-06) | @rmundy29 | Bears, Starting SS (Bye Week)
- Has recorded 43 tackles and 1 pick-six interception in his first 8 games with the bears.
Did Not Play
Chad Henne (2004-07) | @chad_henne | Jaguars. Backup QB
- Did not play. There are calls for him to get playing time due to Bortles’ turnover issues.
- Started 3 games to begin the year. 42/78 for 492 with 3 TDs and 1 interception and 1 fumble. Has apparently lost starting job to rookie Blake Bortles.
David Molk (2007-11) | Eagles, Backup C
- Had started past 4 games, due to starter injury.
Michael Schofield (2009-13) | @schoblue75 | Broncos, Backup T
- Has yet to play. Is marked as inactive.
Jonathan Goodwin (1999-2001) | Saints, Injured C
- Missed his first game since 11/24/2008.
Cameron Gordon (2009-13) | Patriots, Injured LB
- On injured reserve.
Jake Long (2004-07) | Rams, Injured T
- Tore his ACL last week for the second time. Out for the year.
- Has been a starter since he entered the league 7 years ago.
LaMarr Woodley (2003-06) | @lamarrwoodley | Raiders, Injured DE
- Placed on season-ending IR with torn bicep.
- 4 tackles in 5 games.
Will Campbell (2009-12) | @idonttweet73 | Bills, Practice G
Jordan Kovacs (2009-13) | @jkovacs32 | Dolphins, SS
- Was just picked up by the Dolphins (again) to take over for an injured player. Played in 9 games last year for the Dolphins.