Ryan Kuehl

       The big game against the Cowboys is tonight. Sitting around this hotel room is driving me crazy! I woke up this morning around 8, which was two hours before I really needed to. After eating breakfast, we headed over to our final meetings, which lasted about an hour and a half. The biggest pain in the neck, as a player, is sitting around all day waiting to play. At least the hotel movie, Donnie Brasco, helped pass the time.
       Whenever I am getting ready to play, I do a lot of thinking. For me, someone who grew up in Bethesda, Md., playing for the Redskins is a dream come true. And playing the Cowboys on Monday Night Football is absolutely incredible! I think about all the hard work I have put into getting where I am. As an undrafted free agent out of college, I have been fighting from the bottom. Every time an NFL player goes out to perform, it may be his last. No contracts are guaranteed, so if you don’t play well you could be released tomorrow. In the NBA or Major League Baseball, once a player signs his contract, he gets the money. In the NFL, only the signing bonus is guaranteed. Therefore if a player is not a starter–I’m not–he leads a very unstable and insecure life. Once a player becomes established with a team, he gains some sense of stability. Whenever I get ready to strap it up and play, I always think about keeping my job, which means playing as well as I can!
       Football is a mean, nasty game, and I have got to be in the right frame of mind to play. I am glad that my mother can’t get too close to me before a game. Or anyone who knows me off the field, for that matter. I also have my superstitions, which begin with the pre-game meal: four pancakes; four strips of bacon; two eggs, scrambled; and a bowl of peaches. I eat a pancake and a piece of bacon for every quarter of a game. I am very superstitious. I think I get it from my mother. My superstitions carry all the way to kickoff, and have not let me down yet.
       The last thing I really think about before a game is how fortunate I am to be playing in the NFL. I thank God every day for my dream come true. I think a lot of players feel the same way about this as I do. I have been blessed and feel extremely fortunate. [Redskins cornerback] Darrell Green always puts these thoughts into words at the team prayer in the locker room before the game.
       The new stadium has great facilities for the players. There is plenty of room to stretch out and warm up in the locker room. We have big stained-wood lockers, wall-to-wall burgundy carpet, and Redskins symbols all over the place. I love it there.
       I really hope we win this game. We need this one! To play in big games is what it is all about. I get real nervous for big games, which means I will probably puke right before we run out of the tunnel. I hope it doesn’t smell too bad!