Thunder crashes as the bolt of lightning tears across the night sky over ESPN's headquarters. Somewhere, deep in the recesses of the building, the glow from a single, 60-watt lightbulb peers into the darkness through the stacks of cardboard boxes. Little more than a wire with a light-socket at the end, the bulb sways gently over the crowd of sports-jacketed ESPN broadcasters.
Their voices combine to form a din of incomprehensible noise as they wave fists of money in the air. Crowded around a single box, atop of which sits a live monkey, they yell out their bets.
“No way he does it three weeks in a row,” comes a voice from the crowd.
A man steps forward from the crowd of producers and sportswriters, his arms raised in the air.
“Quiet everybody, we’re ready to begin,” he says.
A hush falls over the crowd as they all focus on the monkey. A single dart is placed in the monkey’s hand, and the crowd recedes into a semicircle, revealing a dartboard at the far end of the room.
The dartboard is covered in different colored pieces of paper, closely resembling a pie chart.
The distinctive “whoop” of Chris Berman signals that they are ready to begin. Almost instinctively, the monkey whips the dart toward the board.
The groans of disappointment fill the air almost simultaneously with the thud of the dart.
The dart has struck the large green-and-white piece, and even though the shadow of the dart partially covers the name written on the it, they all know it says “Favre.”
“Tonight on SportsCenter, Brett Favre; we take yet another in-depth look at what brought him to New York...in case you missed it.”
Up in the control booth, a camera tech leans back to a producer and asks, “Shouldn’t we talk about something else in the NFL? I mean, people gotta be sick of hearing about Favre by now, right?”
The sound of gunfire is muffled to those outside by the soundproof glass of the control booth. The camera tech slumps from his chair onto the floor.
“Never question the monkey,” the producer mutters as he returns the gun to his holster.
Meanwhile, in Washington DC, Jason La Canfora is rolling around on the floor under the desk in his office. His hands cupped to his ears as he writhes with an agony-filled grimace on his face.
“Dan Snyder isn’t doing anything!” he seems to yell to no one in particular. “Shut-up!”
The voices that have haunted him for this entire offseason have reached a crescendo. They demand recognition. Like a thousand people whispering into his ears, he hears them all, but can’t hear any one of them.
They whisper evil things about Dan Snyder. “Snyder wants Favre. Snyder hates the fans. Snyder wants to trade away all of his draft picks for the next 10 years for Bill Cowher. Snyder killed Jack Kent Cooke.”
“Stop it, stop it, stop it!” he screams.
He hasn’t slept in weeks; the voices are carrying over into all facets his personal life. Last night, when he went to the refrigerator, the voices chanted, “Snyder wants bacon for two first-round picks,” and “Cerrato wants peanut butter and mayonnaise sandwiches.”
“Gross!” he declared out loud.
Before he knew it, he was sitting at his computer. He looked up at the screen and realized he had typed, “Sources close to the Redskins indicate Cerrato has no taste in sandwiches.”
Highlighting what he had written, he pressed delete and quickly turned off his computer.
Now in his office, the voices had risen to a level impossible to ignore. The phone call he had received from the editor reminding him of his deadline hadn’t helped matters.
“Snyder wants you to kill for a first-rounder in ’09 and a third in 2010.”
“That’s not enough, Snyder’s an idiot!” La Canfora screams.
A passing janitor stopped at the office door when he heard the scream.
“What’s not enough, Mr. La Canfora?” he asked.
“Snyder’s offering a first-round draft pick and a third-round pick from 2010...” La Canfora caught himself before he could finish. He sat upright, still on the floor, his mind quickly pouring through every big-name player he could think of.
“For what?” the janitor asked.
“For Tony Romo!” he blurted out.
“Tony Romo?! Wow, hey, you know, I think I did hear something about that.” The janitor said, not wanting to sound like he was out of the loop.
“Really?” La Canfora asked, gathering himself up off the floor and sitting in his chair. He rolled up to his computer and began to type, “Sources close to the Redskins' organization have confirmed...”
He looked over towards the janitor and waved him into a chair across from his desk.
“Tell me all about it.”