So you’re a franchise quarterback who has grown tired of playing in the same city for the last few years, eating at the same restaurants and being anonymously criticized on Twitter when you tip on a delivery order but people assume it’s an in-person order and thus expect you to be more generous with your money. Who hasn’t been there?
The good news is that the contract you signed is largely meaningless. Fairy dust. It never landed. It is no matter. You can force your way to a new city right now. Imagine a new cookie-cutter mansion in the nice part of town of a new neighborhood that, yes, looks a lot like the old cookie-cutter mansion in the nice part of town of your current neighborhood … but this time it’s painted blue, with black windows and one of those big, old rustic wooden beams running through the middle of the living room. A totally new experience.
Imagine a new fan base that does not take you for granted yet. Imagine a new head coach who doesn’t anonymously leak all your faults to the press to bolster his own credentials (yet). Imagine a new equipment staff that can help you cleverly doctor memorabilia. Heaven!
From the same consultancy that once brought you The Five-Step Survival Guide for New NFL Head Coaches and An NFL Head Coach’s Guide to Creating a Culture Change, we are proud to offer you our latest seminar.
With our short, six-step program, you too will be able to achieve this slice of football freedom. These tools can take you from underappreciated local Hyundai dealer pitchman to momentarily appreciated local Land Rover dealer pitchman in a matter of seconds. You’ll be drafted higher in fantasy football for no good reason! Your significant other will be able to momentarily unlock their social media profile! You’ll be subject to an early-season magazine cover with your photo superimposed on a highly generic backdrop that loosely summarizes your new locale.
Are you ready to begin? Let’s go!
1. Slowly cultivate a trail of social media breadcrumbs
This part is essential. What you’ll want to do is dig deep into anonymous fan Twitter. Go find tweets from the likes of @Mik3788888889229929229 that erroneously state you’d be better off elsewhere. Normal people whose names and occupations are attached to their profile don’t make these kinds of posts because they would identify the poster as ignorant to the machinations of the football world—or, more likely, a 12-year-old who is trying to manifest his Madden dynasty into reality.
At first, you’re just going to like these posts or favorite them in a small quantity. A little taste of your true desire here and there. The hope is that an enterprising beat reporter scrolling through your social activity will notice and write a small post, which you can then half-debunk on Twitter with some kind of dismissive emoji. This, in turn, will amplify the attention around your true desires without directly attributing them to you. Now, Twitter will be rife with poorly constructed photoshopped pictures of you in new, different uniforms. If you’re ready to move on to Step 2, start liking these posts with greater frequency.
2. Alter your Twitter profile
As my colleague Jenny Vrentas and I explored on a recent episode of The Weak-Side Podcast, the modern Twitter profile is, essentially, an AOL away message and user profile stacked in one. Back in the messenger service’s heyday, you could use the away message to convey any emotion, though it was most effective as a tool of passive-aggression against a current or former lover.
If you’ll indulge us, the profile mechanism that had a “Martial Status” section was often populated by your significant other’s name plus roughly 25 to 35 hearts made via the “<” key and the number “3.” Various ebbs and flows in the relationship would account for an increase or decrease in hearts. A serious fight could account for the hearts being removed altogether, replaced by a Gavin DeGraw quote or, in extreme cases, a broken heart (represented here by the “</3” symbol).
In the same way, a quarterback looking to depart town can use his profile page like the “Marital Status” section, making small changes to the profile makeup to convey unhappiness. The most direct way of doing this is to remove all mentions of your current club from your Twitter and Instagram bios. Do not actively say you wish to play elsewhere, but simply identify yourself as a “citizen of the world” or some other nebulous distinction that proves you are in a place of clear-headedness that has led you to take inventory of some major life decisions. If your practice of liking Twitter posts did not garner the appropriate media attention, this most certainly will.
3. Post cryptic song lyrics
Let’s continue the AOL profile line of thinking for a second.
A scenario: You are fighting with your eighth-grade girlfriend who has recently been seen spending increased lunch time with the boy who is her colead in the school play. You do not share a lunch period, so this information has been passed down through various tributaries. The obvious move here is to make your away message a quote from the band 311: “All mixed up, don’t know what to do.” It alerts the intended party that you are unhappy while providing you with a line of defense when confronted about it. “What? No, I’m not mad about you spending time with Chad. I just really like 311.”
Similarly, your girlfriend might respond in kind by changing her marital status to “girls just wanna have fun,” which she will insist is a tribute to Cyndi Lauper but, in reality, is a message for you to “back off” and learn to accept the changing reality of your relationship. Chad’s family has a lake house, after all.
Deshaun Watson effectively implemented this method and provides insight into how to properly wield targeted but defensibly nebulous song lyrics. We are almost a year removed from his effective quoting of Drake: “Don’t deal with the lies and the frauds. That's why I don’t get involved. Wassup..?” As you can see, Watson is a step closer to leaving an undesirable situation in Houston.
4. Give a revelatory but still guarded interview
By now, your wishes have all but crossed over into the mainstream. Various bloggers have already completed top-10-destinations posts (raises hand), and talk radio is abuzz. The obvious advancement is now to sit for an interview related to some kind of charitable work you’re doing this offseason, knowing that the answer to your question about whether you still want to play in your current city will provide the meat in this press-cycle sandwich.
The key here is to remain completely and publicly in love with where you are from a public-facing perspective. This puts an enormous amount of pressure on your current team and shakes the beehive that is its fan base. Fans will wonder why the general manager and owner simply won’t see things your way, despite a completely reasonable set of requests. Just get him a better offensive tackle! Sign his receiver friend from college! Stop trading away your best players as part of some suspect ideological purge!
The money quote will be when you express your ultimate unsureness about the situation drenched in faux humility. Be sure to note that “the only constant in life is change” or “we all know the NFL is a business” or “I have faith, things always seem to work themselves out.”
For further reading, take a look at any and every Aaron Rodgers press conference between 2011 and this past season.
5. Leak intended destinations
Now the fun part! You are one step away from a new life elsewhere. The only thing left to do is tell your general manager how to do their job.
The leaking of destinations is fun because it not only allows you a more direct set of neighborhoods to search on Zillow, but it also gives you an opportunity to provide your team and its fan base with the true object of your affection: a new name under the Martial Status profile.
Be sure to leak destinations that are more fun than your current city, more centrally located with better restaurants and maybe one of those waterfront promenades with the Chipotles that serve alcohol. It’s time to explore all you’ve ever wanted, while simultaneously forcing your agent and general manager to fight over the phone on your behalf.
The leaking of desirable destinations also puts pressure on the general managers in those various cities! It is a beautiful thing, so you may want to go ahead and include a general manager you dislike, making that person look worse in the long run for not acquiring you, even though you never had plans to go there in the first place.
Now, you are receiving an outpouring of love and support from five times the number of people you once were, plus getting anonymous overtures over text and DM from coaches and fellow NFL players hoping you’ll join them. It’s not tampering if you’re having fun (or if you are John Gruden!).
6. Sit back and enjoy
It’s only a matter of time now before you’ll get an exhausted phone call from your agent informing you of your new locale (or, if you play for the Texans, you’ll likely find out from the Adam Schefter Twitter notification you’d set up before vacationing in Mexico).
Remember that, while you had some help along the way, the power was inside you all along. Enjoy your new home and team, which will no longer have any first-round draft picks until the end of the Biden administration. You’ve earned it!