This is day 14 of 90 Days to Score. To learn more about this free web serial, check out the info page here: 90 Days to Score Serial
The design of the Roughriders’ offices took each visitor down a gauntlet of trophy cases—a gaudy show of past successes—and an admonition to anyone who thought anything less than total domination would do.
My now-ex-father-in-law, Harley-Joe Terry, paced in front of a set of closed doors at the end of the hall. Somehow, I’d forgotten about him, too. Probably something to do with my low tolerance for unfounded arrogance which, especially in Harley-Joe’s case, bordered on redundant.
At my approach, he looked up, then graced me with a frown, using his belly and bluster to block the door. “What are you doing here?” Austin had given his father a nominal position. I never understood why—the guy hadn’t enough substance to hold up his socks.
My parents had died a decade ago, so I wasn’t well-versed in the filial thing.
“I called the meeting.” Okay, Coach had forced my hand. Technically, he called the meeting. But I was running the show, or so he said. Nice of him, considering this was akin to leading a paltry group of musket-wielding zealots into battle against the forces of half the free world.
“You think you can run the team?” Austin’s father spat each word with the staccato delivery of a bullet from an automatic—each intended to be lethal.
None of them hit a vital ego; he hadn’t bothered to get to know me.
“Doesn’t matter what I think. Doesn’t matter what you think.” I brushed by him and pushed through the double doors.
“Gentlemen,” I said, using the term loosely as each of them greeted me with an attitude ranging from angry to overtly hostile—well, except the coach. He’d cast his lot with the dark horse. I wasn’t sure why exactly. “I’ll make this brief. I didn’t ask for this job, but I intend to learn quickly and to work in the best interests of this team.”
“You don’t know anything about running an NFL franchise,” my father-in-law interjected from his position holding up the wall near the door.
“You’re wasting your time, Harley-Joe,” someone from the back said. “She’s got the shares to do what she wants.”
Not a ringing endorsement, but a good representation of the truth…for ninety days.
“I do know something about running a business and, if anything, professional football is all about the bottom line.” Grumblings of assent spurred me on. “Do I have a proven track record in the NFL? No.” I paused as I let my gaze wander over my audience, catching and holding eye contact with those brave enough. “But there are several among us who don’t have history at this level of the game either. I’m asking the experienced among you to give me the deference and the help that you will offer your untested colleagues.”
My father-in-law pushed himself off the wall. Turning his back to me, he addressed the team. “Do you men really want to put your fate in the hands of a girl?”
“Woman,” the coach corrected. “A very accomplished woman.”
I held up my hand, stopping him. “Look, I can’t do it without all of you being on board. If you want to get me thrown out, I’m sure you can. You’ll probably have to tank your season to do it. Maybe it’s worth it. That’s your call. But, before you decide, hear me out—”
My father-in-law gestured his dismissal. “No way am I listening to this.”
“Shut up, Harley-Joe,” the offensive line coach said. “Let her talk. Doesn’t cost anything to listen.”
“Thank you, Coach Steger.” He cocked his head and raised one shoulder. At least he was willing to listen. I saw the same expression on the others in the room. They wanted their season as much as I did, albeit for different reasons. But, first things first. I couldn’t win with an enemy in my ranks. I turned to my father-in-law. “You’re fired.”
Silence descended. Nobody breathed. Nobody moved.
Harley-Joe Terry, a man whose only skill in life was riding his son’s coattails, stared at me open-mouthed. “W-wha-at?” he stammered.
“You’re fired. Get out.” I motioned to one of the junior guys. “Would you please escort him out? Don’t let him take anything with him.”
Stricken, the young man nevertheless did as I asked.
I waited until the doors closed behind my father-in-law and air once again filled the room. This time, when I scanned the faces, I saw hints of respect. “I have a proposition for you. Ninety days. If I haven’t convinced you I can do this job at the end of ninety days, then I’ll sell my interest. But for those ninety days, you have to be on my side, working with me not against me. If anyone…” I shot a glance toward the door that had closed behind my father-in-law. I didn’t need to say anything. “You guys talk it over. You have forty-eight hours.”
“What if we don’t take the deal?” This time one of the defensive coaches stepped up.
“At the very least, the season will be toast. After that, who knows? New owners. They’ll have their staffs, their guys they want in. That’ll leave a lot of you out.”