Read the thoughts and musings of a cultured redneck here
Well week one is coming to an end already. Today I went to lift weights with my friend Ennis (tight end) and Marlon. Ennis is from Bosnia and last year he played in Italy with former Gamecock Boo Williams. We went to a gym named Sali 82. It is a power lifting gym. It was fun and afterwords we sat in a Finnish sauna. Suanas are a big tradition for this country or something. We went to practice later that day. The coach told me that I would play one quarter at the game. I was ok with this seeing as I had just got here on Tuesday and really don't even know the system that well. Later on that night I got my first finnish massage from a girl on our hall. She just graduated from Massage Therapy School and yes it was nice. The guys here really look after us and are always calling to see if we want to do this or that or go here or there. Since its a little colder over here my sinuses have started acting up and I have the congestion or whatever. I have a small cough, but its getting better. I am learning some finnish too. I know about 10 words now and can convey to the people that I don't speak finnish and a few other key terms and words. They usually already know and can tell by looking at us and they will approach me in English. Finland as a whole is nice. It is cleaner and greener than back at home. More people are outside walking and stuff all the time, but maybe this is because they can only walk in the summer because during the winter it is too cold to leave their houses. I also saw some rabbits over here.....they look like rabbits on steroids or something. They are huge. Some of the guys took me out to a movie tonight. We went and watched The Matrix II. It was an ok movie I guess. Can you believe that the movie theatres over here have assigned seats. Not only that, but the movies were packed as well. They guys won't let me pay for anything either. Well we have our first game tommorrow and it doesn't even seem like game week to me. We'll see how it goes. All I know is that we are leaving at 9 in the morning and its late now so I better go to bed.
Well this was an experience all in itself. First of all let me start off by saying that I've never played on turf this bad before in my life. Tennesee Tech was close, but this beats all. There was no padding underneath the field and the turf had sand all over it, which would cut your skin if you fell on it. I got some turf burn on my elbow. We had about a 5 hour ride north to some town and played a team called the crocodiles. I was a bit nervous, because I knew I would play at least a quarter, but things turned out differently than planned.
Lets start with my equipment. I have some decent shoulder pads and I brought my rib pads. Now my helmet is loose a little bit and my pants don't have a belt so we duct taped them up and I wear a size 13 shoe and during the game I was wearing 11 1/2's so you can imagine how it was. The jerseys and pants we wear have sponsor patches all over them. Kind of like a soccer jersey would look or something. I will try to keep mine so that I will have it for the Turkey Bowl this year.
The older Qb was to start and I was to get a quarter sometime later in the game. Well on the first series he got a neck inury and so I went in second series and played the rest of the game. My first series in on the 3rd play I hit the Tight End down the middle for a touchdown. It felt good to finally have the feeling again, but I must say it was like playin C.A. Johson or something. I ending up throwing 3 TD's on the game. I passed for 243 yards and rushed 4 times for 44 yards and one of these was a sack. I think the guys like me or atleast I try to bring them together and stuff. Sometimes I wonder if they understand me. We won the game 28 to 0, but we should have scored 50 points on them. I was 10 for 20. After the first score I found out that I was also the holder for our team, something that I have never done before either. I held for all of the extra points and we made them all so I guess it was good. I am excited at the outcome of the first game, but I also realize that the competition was not that great and the game does go at a slower level. While we play we have to wear a big A on the back of our helmet so that the ref's will know how many americans are in the game at one time. It was kind of weird. I was also a captain during the game. One time I rolled out and threw the ball towards one of our guys and he couldn't catch it and it hit the referee right smack in the nose. He immediately dropped to his knees. They had to stop the game because the ref got injured, but he came back after about 5 minutes and fnished the game. Everytime I threw a TD pass I gave the lineman a tap on the helment or a five letting them know that they were doing a good job and I think they liked it. You can tell they are expecting me to be a leader and some of the guys on the team even told me that. I hope that I will do good enough to please them, but they seem happy as of now. The coaches told me that I did well for the first game...so I am happy for now. I mean I don't even really know whats going on with the system totally. The other team had a linebacker from Maryland and we talked a little after the game so that was neat. After the game we took showers and sat in the sauna that was in the locker room.
Now the bus ride home was something totally different. We stopped in the town that we were in at a local store and the whole team, including coaches got off of the bus and went into the store and bought loads and loads of beer. I couldn't believe what was going on. I happen to be on the phone with Mr. J.E. and Mrs. Karen Aldridge at the time and was telling them about this. So the whole team, except for Marlon and I got drunk on the way home. We had to stop the bus 3 times so the guys could use the restroom. We would just pull over on the side of the road and the guys would line up and just go right there. I may take my camera on the next game and take a picture of this because it is quite the sight (pictures of the backside only though so don't worry). The guys were singing and talking/yelling the whole way. Marlon had his Cd's on the bus and so we put in a Snoop Dog cd to make the guys be quiet and because we knew they would hate it, but they let it play all the way through.
After all of the stops we finally made it back to Turku. The team was half lit by the time we got here and these guys got off the bus and went straight to the clubs. Marlon and I got a ride back here and cleaned up a little bit then went out with the guys. Once you go downtown people are going every which a way so its hard to keep track of everyone. We got into 3 clubs, for free with no wait so that was nice. Many of the guys on the team are bouncers at the clubs. It's funny to see these people dancing in clubs because they really think that they have it going on, but if you were to see them, you would be asking yourself what in the world they are doing. Its funny to watch them. Just imagine a person catching cramps all over their body is the only way I can describe it. Yesterday was graduation for the whole country of Finland so it was packed. While we were out I met a girl named Maria and she was nice. She speaks 5 languages and is dark headed. There are a million blondes over here. I may just have to see about her. Everyone over here has a cell phone and it is always a Nokia because there is a huge Nokia plant here so of course I got the digits. And that was that for the night.
Well I must say that after the flight over and all of the arriving hassles I did get some sleep though it doesn't really get that dark at night. It is cold here too. It has to be cold for me to be getting cold and these people are over here riding around with the tops down on the convertibles. Its like 11 o'clock at night right now but the sun looks like it is 6 o clock in the evening. The town I'm staying in is nice and up to date technology wise. When we got to my room I met our neighbors that my new friend Marlon had already been getting to know. They seem to be nice girls and they came over to make sure that I had everything that I needed. They gave me food and were nice. It isnt bad that one of them just graduated from massage therapy school. And yes they both speak spanish due to spending time in Spain...so yeah I can hablar with them.
The place I stay in is downtown on the second level of some buildings. Its on top of some stores, one of which is a bar/pub so its pretty neat. I have never lived like that before, but I can get to things pretty quick if I need to. The room itself is small, but is also liveable (check out the video). Ya'll know me and as long as I have the internet then I'm fine. Well I have the high speed connection in here. I also have a Tv with cable, a bathroom, shower, microwave and bed. So I have everything I need. I can stand up with my arms spread and touch the walls on each side of the room.
One thing that is weard about the people here is that they dip tobacco, but they don't put it in their bottom lip. They put it in their top lip. I'm going to get a picture of one of them while they do it just so you can see how weard it looks. Thats all for today. I have to go to some kind of function that the team puts on for the kids tommorrow for publicity and then, meet with the offensive coordinator, then have practice in the afternoon. I will let you know how it all goes when its over. I really hope that my luggage gets here tommorrow like they have said.
Day 2 (The First Practice)
Today I had to get up at like 7:30 in the morning. We then went to our home field and had an exhibition like demonstration for the kids. These kids were like in high school and middle school. There were a bunch of them...enough to pack a stadium infield. I have never done something like that before, but it was ok. There was also something funny going on there which I did capture on video. There was a guy there with a dildo who was teaching the youngsters how do put on a condom. He was letting the boys and girls do this. I couldn't believe it, but they said that this was normal. I will put the video online so you can see this. I was about to die laughing at this, but I guess its a cultural thing. There were a bunch of tents there also.
At this point I was informed that my luggage had arrived. I was happy with this and so the coach brought it to me. However, the lock was missing from my bags. I looked through my bag and cannot find anything missing, but someone did take my lock. Maybe this was due to me not knowing how to set the combination. I have all of my clothes and stuff though so I'm ok. After that Marlon and I went to meet with the offensive coordinator and we met for 2 hours and went over the plays and then had lunch in a hotel. I was so tired at this point cause it would be like 3 in the morning or something over at our place that I had a headache and had to take a nap. I took a 2 hour nap and got some rest. The sun was out the whole time which made it difficult to rest well, but it felt good to sleep.
So now I had to go to my first practice knowing only half of the plays and stuff. I did get a majority of the reps today too. I think this is because they want me to learn it quickly. I understand the concepts and it is nothing that I haven't seen. I just have to learn the terminology and remember the plays and then have to figure out what the coach is trying to tell me. Sometimes they use different words than we do for routes or coverages. I did do well today though as far as throwing the ball and stuff. Some of the guys weren't use to "the heat" and not use to "the bomb". After the practice I was talking with the head coach and it was kind of funny. He came up to me and asked me "if I had gotten any sex yet" and I looked him in the eye and told him..."coach I came here to play ball and win games" and he looked me dead in the face and laughed. So you can see the difference in culture here. He also told the team that Marlon and I had changed the sex life for the whole team since we were now here. Assuming that the guys had harder chances to get girls now that we were here.
After practice Marlon and I came back here and showered then went to eat at the place where we get free meals. Tommorrow is a national holiday so you can imagine how many people were out. There were people all over the streets. There is a river that runs through the middle of this town and that is where all of the restuarants/clubs and stuff are. While we were there you could definitely tell that people were recognizing that we are americans and stuff. They were staring and stuff like that. After our meal we came back and chilled out for a bit. since my luggage had arrived, I began unpacking it. Then Marlon told me that some of the guys were going to take us out tonight. Well I couldn't tell them no, so I went with them. We went to a restaurant and by the time we got there 11:30 at night all of the people were wasted. These old women were coming up to us hovering all over us and stuff. It was very awkward, but I just went with the flow. Then we went to a club (Prima), and got in VIP because one of our friends knew the guys at the place and it was nice. He knows the owner so we met him and talked for a bit. This was a younger crowd and you could also tell that they knew that we were Americans. I was scooped up by a girl and taken to dance within an hour. I went to dance to a Bon Jovi song so you can imagine how the steps were. I didnt know how to dance and the girl was laughing at me most of the time. After this the guys and I talked about football and they asked me questions about everything and we got to know each other. It was a pretty good night. These girls over here are more blunt and don't mind staring or letting you know that they are interested in you. As we were walking I had one girl slap me in the chest with her pocketbook while we were going and said something in Finnish to me...my friends said that she said I looked good, but I've never had an encounter like this and I was ready to fight her, but they told me that she was flirting. At 4 in the morning, which is now...we came home. It is bright outside and I dont feel like it is 4 in the morning. I still have my clock set on my laptop to American time and it is 9:38 at night. I have to get my hours straight soon or I'm going to be in trouble. The guys are really taking care of us over here so its pretty nice. They understand that American football is ahead of them, but they don't have a problem with it and they will even ask you to help them out on some things. So there is no like racism or hatred that I have encountered yet. They wont let me pay for anything and come by and pick us up whenever they are going somewhere. I guess I should go to sleep now, but I'm not tired. I have another meeting with the offensive coordinator tommorrow to go over some things. I understand the playbook and concepts, just have memorize the stuff and I will be ok. We have our first game on this Saturday and I think that they will stick me in there so we will see. I still laugh at these guys putting the dip in their upperlips. I will be posting the videos hopefully and the pics soon.
I hope all of you are doing well,
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