Mike Sims-Walker is looking for something. It isn’t just a new team, and it isn’t a notary to change his name (cool side note: 1.6% of NFL players have hyphenated last names. Now there’s a way to impress your friends at the snooker table!)
No, Sims-Walker is looking for 2009 again. That year, he produced numbers that had many people convinced he was worth a sixth-round choice in fantasy football in 2010. Okay, maybe not many people. Maybe just me. In any case, his numbers dipped in 2010 and nearly disappeared in 2011.
But who cares, right? I mean, the struggles of a receiver from Central Florida aren’t particularly interesting unless you look at it in a certain way. So I prefer to look at it as an old time mystery requiring the services of a private eye.
I was relaxing in my recliner behind my desk, tipping the brim of my fedora over my eyes so Claire wouldn’t see me napping if she happened to poke her nose in my office. She was a mouse in more ways than one, from the way she blinked and preened her face to the way little whiskers grew beneath her nose every Tuesday before she did her weekly waxing.
I didn’t want to be bothered with Claire or anyone else that day. It was a hot one, unlike usual in the slimy Midwest where I now made my trade as a private dick. I was content to sleep and pretend like the world had stopped moving outside, just be one with my recliner.
But this dame had other ideas.
Her name was Roxanne. She was a tall drink of water, slender and brown, and she entered my office clumsily, rudely. I snapped my head up and looked at her for a second before lighting a cigarette.
“Those kill, you know,” she said sweetly.
“Better by smoke than by a bullet,” I shot back. “What’s your business?”
So she laid it out for me as pretty as a picture. She had a friend who played football. For a minute he was good, real good. But sometime between the 2010 and 2011 seasons, something changed.
“He lost something. It was a good luck charm. Some sort of amulet. He called it his ability amulet, and said he can’t play without it.”
I looked at the box scores of his games in 2011, when he played for two different teams. 12 catches, no touchdowns. Maybe he was right.
“I don’t believe in that supernatural mumbo-jumbo,” I said. “There are a hundred logical explanations as to why he suffered in St. Louis.”
“He won’t believe it. He’s convinced he needs the amulet, and he’s going to play like crap until he finds it. And now he wants to play in Houston, but I’m afraid without his amulet he’ll struggle more, and if he fails one more time, he’ll be out on the street.”
I looked at the dame. She was concerned, dainty, and feminine, but something about her made it hard for me to trust her. Something didn’t add up.
“Why did he send you?” I asked through a puff of smoke.
“Because it’s always a woman who hires the detective.”
So that was the problem. Find the amulet so this guy could do the stuff he used to do in Jacksonville. Then maybe eat a sandwich. Claire had made chili, but I didn’t want any of that. It smelled like Sam Bradford’s face looks.
A week later, I was ready to admit defeat. I followed every last lead. Interviewed every witness. Nobody could explain why Mike Sims-Walker had one great year, then one average year, then one terrible year. It wasn’t age. It wasn’t drugs. Maybe he was right. Maybe this amulet was his good luck charm.
But then, as I was looking over his pro-football-reference sheet for the hundredth time, it hit me! I grabbed the phone.
“Tell your boy not to go to Houston.”
“Because his future is in Miami. That’s why he was good before. Because David Garrard was throwing him the ball.”
“Garrard? But he’s not that good.”
“Maybe not. But sometimes you can’t explain chemistry. And if Mike is worried his career will end if he fails, he should go somewhere he’s comfortable with.”
She paused so long I thought the phone disconnected. Then she said, “Maybe Garrard knows about the amulet! I’ll tell Mike to try out with them so he can ask.”
I sighed. “Yeah. Maybe.”
She hung up and I never talked to her again. Mike is trying out with the Texans still, and maybe he’ll turn it around. Maybe he’ll survive without Garrard, and without the amulet. But if he doesn’t, I’ll keep one eye open under my fedora, always ready for the next time a beautiful woman with a case comes walking through my door…
Wait, what happened? I fell asleep for a minute at my desk.
What was I saying? Oh yeah. Mike Sims-Walker. He’s boring. Who cares?