Nothing beats a good team bonding experience than getting together with some great food. Before I became a vegetarian, I thoroughly enjoyed grilled chicken wings and lamb. The smoky, hickory flavor absorbed by taste buds made cookouts worthwhile. Attach that mouth-watering feeling with being around your favorite teammates taking in the fresh summer breeze, and it was pure joy.
The music is blasting through the speakers, and everyone is joking and having fun. I always enjoyed going to Devin’s house because it is still the most massive and best-looking home I have ever encountered. Devin was a great host, and everyone at the BBQ was excited to be there. The guys would step outside to enjoy the fresh air and talk about the random things while the wives shared a space in the living room and kitchen chatting.
The BBQ attendees consisted of mostly skill players – receivers, running backs, tight ends, cornerbacks, safeties and quarterbacks. The usual guys who hang together because you are in daily meetings with most of them, so your family gravitates towards them too. So, there we were all outside watching the smoke from the grill and talking about sports, cars, shoes, marriage and finances. Everyone was cordial, and the BBQ was entertaining. Then, the BBQ turned weird. Things got silent. There were whispers around the grill. I overheard one guy say, “Yo Jay here.” What??? I couldn’t believe it. Walking down the steps toward us is the veneers-bracing smiling Cutler with his then-fiancée.
The BBQ did not turn weird just because Jay showed up to a teammate gathering. This was “HESTER’S BBQ!” No one expected to see Jay. Usually, he would text and ask me if I were attending a team function, but no text this time. I was shocked to see him show up at the party. Jay and Hester’s relationship was no secret. They did not get along. Why? Simple, Jay did not feel Devin was worthy of being a top receiver. A few missed assignments by Devin, and Cutler’s demeanor of “What the fuck is that guy doing?” created tension from the beginning and their relationship never mended. The chatter in the organization that Cutler wanted a number one receiver quickly made its way to the receiver room where Devin was supposedly our top receiver. Cutler never trusted Devin on the field as a receiver. Devin never liked Cutler. There were times during the 2009 season where they had verbal spats on the sideline. They were not a match made in heaven.
Seeing Cutler show up in his typical, then frat boy attire (button down, shorts and shades) at the BBQ demonstrates how he does not need approval from anyone for anything. Though he was welcomed with open arms, the weirdness and uncomfortableness for everyone turned this fun BBQ sour. Despite the tension between Jay and Hester, Devin was a good sport. You could not tell there was any rift between the two. They talked for a few seconds, and that was about all. This offseason BBQ was officially the weirdest and most uncomfortable for all the partygoers.
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