Chapter 1 — Offensive Planning
THE BOSS’S OPEN HAND slammed against his glass desktop with an ear-splitting smack. Every ornament, pen, and even the phone jumped and then rattled back into place. “Damn it all! I didn’t want it to come to this!”
The huge man standing on the other side of the desk remained unfazed. His pectoral muscles stretched the fabric of his black t-shirt while his biceps bulging above the short sleeves. Maintaining a placid expression required more self-control than most of his duties, which tended toward knocking heads together. A protruding vein, just visible in front of his left ear throbbed with increasing frequency. He hoped the boss didn’t notice. Being cool under pressure was his identity.
The early evening sunlight filtering in through a gap in the venetian blinds. A recently smoked cigar’s aroma lingered in the air.
“We knew he was a wild card, boss.” Not a quiver from the big man’s crossed arms as he spoke. His voice was even; detached.
“Yeah, I know. But I still feel like we could have handled it better.” He sighed as he spun in his leather chair and reached for a cut glass tumbler sitting on a polished credenza. He poured himself two fingers of The McCallan 12. His companion stood stoically as he savored a sip. “You don’t think there are any other options?”
The big man shrugged, “That’s not my call, sir.”
“It’s really a shame. He had potential. He could have made us a lot of money.”
“That’s why you picked him. But, like you said, we can’t tolerate what he did.”
The boss took a longer draught, then set the glass down with a clink. “I know. The time is right. You take care of it.”
The boss leaned forward and reached for his telephone handset as the big man left. He mumbled to himself, “It’s a damned shame.”
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Jimmy Rydell Found Murdered
By Dexter Peacock, Sr. Correspondent and Kristi Olson, Staff Writer
June 1, 2019 12:15 p.m. ET
Jimmy Rydell, Heisman Trophy winner and number one overall pick in the 2017 NFL draft, was found dead today, the victim of an apparent murder. Rydell’s naked body was discovered this morning on the swan seat on the carousel in Central Park. A spokesperson for the NYPD would say only the investigation is underway and that no suspects have yet been identified.
In January of 2017, Rydell led the Mississippi State University Bulldogs to an unexpected SEC championship. Rydell’s record-setting 43 touchdown passes earned him both the Heisman Trophy and the Davey O’Brien Award as the nation’s top quarterback.
Before his first professional season, Rydell was involved in several off-field incidents, including a fight with security officers in a New York nightclub and an arrest for driving while intoxicated in New Jersey. He became a controversial figure when he took a knee during the singing of the National Anthem prior to the opening game of the 2018 season, despite a league directive that all players should stand. Rydell was fined, but not suspended, for the incident, and continued to display his support for the Black Lives Matter movement on and off the field. A knee injury ended his rookie year after eleven games, in which the team went 5-6.
Rydell’s 2018 season was similarly marred by off-field incidents, culminating with his embarrassing arrest in a Manhattan strip club after he shot himself in the foot with a registered gun. He was later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor gun charges, for which he was serving a period of probation and public service at the time of his death. Rydell returned for the last three games of the 2018 season, winning only one of those games, but playing well. Team officials say that they were optimistic going into the 2019 season with Rydell at quarterback.
Last May, Rydell was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor when he and actress Lindsay Lohan were filmed swimming in the fountain in Central Park near Columbus Circle at 2:00 a.m.
Team owner Woody O’Meara said in a statement this morning that the entire organization is shocked and saddened by the tragic death of their quarterback. “Despite his troubles off the field and his injuries, Jimmy Rydell was a young man of tremendous character and amazing talent, who will be missed by everyone in our locker room and front office.”
Since the end of the 2018 season, rumors have circulated linking Rydell and two other New York players to a league-wide investigation into possible point-shaving. Rydell had declined to comment on the rumors and the league denies that there is any ongoing investigation. However, inside sources told The New York Times that federal agents are working on the case and that involved individuals linked to the Gallata crime family are under investigation. A spokesperson for the NYPD declined to comment on the existence of a link between the Rydell murder and the ongoing federal probe.
Funeral services for Jimmy Rydell will be held at Riverside Church on Thursday, beginning at 3:00 p.m. The team has made a donation of $100,000 in Rydell’s name to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater New York, a charity for which Rydell did substantial fundraising work during his troubled time in New York City. Fans are urged to make donations to the organization in lieu of sending flowers.