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Cast Away

If you paid attention in English Lit. at some point in time you were taught about character conflict. This probably rings a bell; character vs. nature, character vs. technology, and character vs. society to name a few.

I’m not an English teacher, and you’re not here for an English lesson, but these are called literary devices. While I typically write about sports, these devices are littered throughout The Encyclopedia’s work, I just typically don’t come out and say it because I know you’re smart enough to see the meaning underneath it all.

One thing I enjoy about creative writing is that there are no rules. Sometimes I leave a meaning up for interpretation, and sometimes I spell it out, it’s up to me.

This week we’re talking about character vs. self, and what better way than through the lens of a defensive back.

DB life is singular.

Here we have Hall of Fame corner in Champ Bailey out on an island. With a name like Champ Bailey whether he was matched up 1 v. 1 with the opposing team’s beat receiver, or stranded and left for dead like Chuck Noland, Bailey would’ve found a way to survive.

Roland Bailey Jr. was an elite, can’t miss player, but what about some of the other corners that’ve been slightly washed away by the sands of time.

Chris Gamble might be the best collegiate two-way player I’ve seen with my own eyes. Coming out of Ohio St., having just played both ways in arguably the greatest Championship game to date, the Panthers took a safe pick in Gamble with their first round selection.

Contrary to my popular belief, he didn’t play wideout and corner for Carolina, only corner.

My selective memory assumed Gamble occasionally operated on both sides of the ball within the NFC South, but his Pro Football Reference shows otherwise. Either way, the guy with the last name associated with risk and uncertainty was anything but that for the Panthers.

A steady corner, he played almost a decade for the team that drafted him in ‘04, rarely missing a game until his retirement season in 2012.

For a DB, there’s a dime package, a nickel package, and for a brief period of time, there was the R.W. McQuarters package.

A corner, and a return man, I have no recollection of McQuarters playing for the 9ers, Lions, or Giants…just the Bears. Winning a Super Bowl in ‘07 with the G-Men, at that point he was primarily used as a punt returner and backup corner.

I remember him as a ball hawk wearing the Nelly band-aid seemingly averaging an interception a game in these outstanding Chicago uniforms.

DB’s are frequently stereotyped as being the biggest divas on the defensive side of the ball. Every so often you’ll come across one that’s not afraid to mix it in the trenches and over the middle.

The 5th overall pick in the ‘02 draft, Quentin Jammer was a physical corner. He made his mark for over a decade with the Chargers as their number one.

Not afraid to put his hands on an opposing wideout and jam him at the line, (see what I did there?) he was known to take the man, and if the ball came with it, that was icing on the cake.

Quentin Jammer is a bit of a microcosm of those early 2000’s Chargers teams as they never got passed the AFC Championship game, and he never made a Pro Bowl.

In fact, Chris Gamble and R.W. McQuarters were never selected to a single Pro Bowl either.

There’s a strong comparison to be made between being deserted in the flat, lined up against a playmaking wideout, and the isolating feeling that comes with writing.

Especially when your work doesn’t produce the accolades you’re seeking. But there is greatness in isolation. When you know you’re the only one that can make it happen, and even if you weren’t, no one else is coming to save you anyway. When it’s just you, it’s a character building experience.

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