Next day, I scoured the Internet for everything I could find in the Detroit papers about the game and about Rodney. I entered every Lions chat room I could find online and basked in everyone's misery. Evil as it makes me sound, I just loved it. Posts like "How could we let Peete destroy us?" absolutely made my day. Rodney had a playoff game with Dallas to worry about, but I reveled in that win over the Lions for the longest time, because those Detroit fans were so hurt by the loss. They were devastated, but it wasn't just the loss that got them going: It was the fact that they had been run ragged by a guy they had written off and sent packing. That was the strawberry shortcake ice cream bar for me.
My worst football memory also involves Rodney in an Eagles uniform, and it reinforces how fickle we fans can sometimes be -- especially in a hard-nosed city like Philadelphia. It was a Monday Night Football game the following season, and the Eagles had gotten off to a flying start. Rodney was playing with a big new contract, which I'm sure had a lot to do with that kick-butt performance against his old team in the 1995 playoffs. There were great expectations all around. And then, all of a sudden, Rodney dropped back to pass and somehow got his cleat caught in that godawful AstroTurf they used to have at Veterans Stadium. (I used to call it "loopy green cement.") He twisted his knee in all kinds of weird ways. I couldn't see what happened from where I was in the stands; but later on, when I caught a replay on television, I had to look away -- that's how painful it was just to watch. That night at the stadium, all I could see was this big huddle around Rodney, and the trainer calling for a stretcher, and Rodney laying on the field in obvious agony. I knew it wasn't good. The real tell, though, was when I got waved down from the stands to join Rodney in the locker room. Even a newlywed football wife knows that's not a good sign -- they don't wave you down from the stands to the locker room unless it's serious. Right there, I knew Rodney's season was over. I just prayed his career wasn't through as well.
By the time I got down to the locker room, the team had already made plans to rush Rodney to the hospital. I sat next to him while trainers and coaches and players swarmed around him on the table. My poor honey's kneecap was up in his thigh. As a rookie wife, I was panicking, and I struggled to say and do all the right things. To make matters worse, I remembered I was in the locker room -- that forbidden vat of testosterone into which no woman (with the exception of a few brave female sportswriters) was allowed. There I was, the only woman among some 40 (mostly) naked men, all of them more concerned with their QB than where my eyes might uncontrollably shift. Whew, it was some litmus test for me that night.