Love at the 50 Yard Line - Book cover

Love at the 50 Yard Line

Mel C. Clair

Cocky Football Players


“Good morning, Brooke,” my receptionist Julie greets me as I step into my office. It’s a typical Wednesday morning. I managed to drop Syd off at school on time for once, and I’m looking forward to the couple of regular client meetings on my schedule.

“Morning, Julie,” I say cheerfully as I grab a mug from next to the coffee machine.

“You have another request to take on an NFL player for extensive physical therapy.”

“Oh? Who is it?” I ask.

“Colin Scholtz,” she says, as though he’s just the same as any other football player.

I choke a little on my first sip of coffee. “Seriously?! Tell him I’m too busy or something.”

“He’s already in the exam room…” she says hesitantly.

“Ugh! Fabulous,” I grunt.

I drop my coat and bag in my office before heading toward the exam room. Of all the players, of all the well-known physical therapists in the industry, why me? Why Scholtz? I hate him!

Plus, I saw what happened to Scholtz, and it would be a miracle for anyone to recover from an injury like that enough to be an NFL star again.

I don’t need another player ignoring my warning signs and rushing back into football for fame, fortune, and glory, only to be met by their own demise and my I told you so!

I let out a heavy, frustrated sigh and open the door, instantly locking eyes with Scholtz. I’ve never really seen those striking, hazel brown eyes before; they’re always hidden behind his helmet on TV.

His well-defined muscles strain against his short-sleeved workout shirt, and the definition of his biceps and chest show through. His calves are on display below his workout shorts.

His burly thighs tense when I entered the room, and I admire how much more muscular and bulkier every inch of his body is compared to any man who’s not a pro football player. Just looking at him sends a shiver up my spine.

I know, I’m done with football players, but I’m attracted to them for a reason. Trying to push down the wave of lust just makes me hate Scholtz even more.

He drops his eyes from mine, looking disappointed and even defeated as he stares down at the big cast covering his left leg and foot. His crutch leans against the wall next to him.

This part, at least, is familiar. I can be professional. “Hello, Mr. Scholtz. I’m Brooke Waters. So, why do you want to do your physical therapy here?”

“I was told you were the best.”

“Is that so?” I raise a stern brow.

“Yeah. I need to be back and playing as soon as possible.”

Here we go. I knew it. I huff under my breath, my professionalism straining against my irritation. Stars like him have a one-track mind: to go back to playing, whatever the cost!

“I’m not that kind of physical therapist, Mr. Scholtz.”

He looks at me oddly, not really understanding my answer. I clarify, “I don’t take shortcuts just to get you back on the field.”

“I’m strong. I can recover fast,” he retorts. “The doctors who performed the surgery said I can do full range-of-motion exercises seventy-two hours after surgery. That’s today. I’m here, I’m ready to go.”

“And I completely disagree,” I snap back at him. “That is accelerated protocol from coaches too eager to put you back on the field.”

I glance at the chart Julie left on the counter for me, which confirms everything Scholtz is saying about the doctors’ too-optimistic prognosis. Then I throw it back down, getting even more heated in my explanation.

“You should be in a posterior splint for two weeks, with orthotic braces to correct alignment and provide support.”

He opens his mouth like he wants to reply, but I cut him off, wanting to finish my recommendation at least.

“Resistance exercises should be slow and gradual, and not until six weeks after surgery should you be allowed full weight-bearing.” There. I said what I have to say; now let’s see if he’s willing to hear it.

“I’d rather start the exercises today,” Scholtz says, completely disregarding everything I just said—which, of course, makes me even angrier.

Every line we speak comes out a little firmer, a little louder, a little more aggressive toward each other. “You have a serious injury, Mr. Scholtz! One that not many players ever return to football with!”

“I will!” he replies harshly. Again, firmer, louder, more aggressive.

“And you’re SO certain of that?” I stand my ground, folding my arms over my chest. “Are you aware that reports consistently show a decline in power ratings after injuries such as yours for skilled players, specifically running backs?”

“What’s your point?” he grunts.

“My point is, even if you fully recover from this, you won’t be the same player you were before! And you’ll be EVEN MORE prone to further injure yourself!”

“LOOK!” he spits back, finally at his tipping point. “You can spout off all the facts you want like it’s nothing to you! But this is MY life, MY career! Football is my LIFE!”

He finally takes a breath. “Why are you so certain my career is already over?” he asks.

I straighten my back, standing tall, and glare at him dead in the eyes. “It’s not nothing to me. You have no idea how much a sports injury can break your life.” It broke mine. And I wasn’t even the one injured.

I lean my upper body into his with rage in my eyes and voice. “I’ve seen injuries like this destroy men like you,” I elaborate, painting a clear picture for his cocky ass. “Chew you up and spit you out of the game for good! Before you can even blink!”

I am all too familiar with Scholtz. It’s been three years now since he took John’s spot on the Panthers, and he’s still the hottest player in the NFL. He’s won player of the year awards, made the All-Conference and All-America.

He dazzles reporters, makes covers of magazines, and has women dangling from his shoulders everywhere he goes.

Recently I’ve seen him splashed across the tabloids with one woman in particular: Natali Summers, a tall, dark-skinned, dark-haired, gorgeous model.

I can understand why it would be hard to give all that up, and it’s my job to try and make sure he doesn’t have to.

I’m good at my job. I’m good at helping players through recovery from injuries. But this player, this injury... it’s impossible.

“All I’m saying is, you need to prepare yourself for the worst-case scenario. So unless you’re ready to listen to me, Mr. Scholtz, and do things my way, I can’t take you on as a client.

“My way means no less than eleven months of a functional rehabilitation program, involving a slow progression of increasing motion, weight-bearing, and strengthening exercises. That alone will take six months.

“After that we can start more intense strength training of the repaired tendon, and THEN we can discuss where you stand before deciding if you should go back to playing football!

“Or,” I say with a fake-ass smug smile on my face, “you can find another physical therapist elsewhere.

“Maybe take two weeks to think about it while you stay off that foot of yours, elevating it and icing it multiple times a day.” I refuse to spend any more time in this exam room with him.

“Meeting you has been a real pleasure, Mr. Scholtz. Have a good day.”

Yes, I could have given him the facts in a much more sympathetic way, like I do with all my other clients. But this way, he’ll complain to all his friends about what a bitch I am, and then he’ll go find someone else.

I won’t have to work with him. And maybe he needed a little ice-cold talk, to wake his cocky ass up and force him to face reality!

I stare with gritted teeth out my office window as Scholtz hobbles out the door of the exam room on his crutches. “Cocky football players really find their way under my skin like the worst splinter,” I mutter under my breath.

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