Slow Getting Up: A Story of NFL Survival from the Bottom of the Pile by Nate Jackson:
I love Mayfield’s enthusiasm. And I promise myself I will adopt his approach: Stay positive. Stay motivated. Every day has a purpose. But it’s easy to start feeling sorry for myself in Birmingham. We stay at a Shoney’s Inn in a nondescript commercial neighborhood south of the city, across from a U.S. Treasury office, a Dollar General, a handful of other depressing hotels, and an animal hospital. Unlike most Shoney’s this one doesn’t have a restaurant attached. Instead we have a shuttle service to take us to our meals. Breakfast and lunch we eat in the hospital cafeteria.
Years later, when I’ll close my eyes and picture this city, I’ll see an overweight woman walking slowly across a street as I sit in the passenger seat of the Shoney’s Inn shuttle and wait. At the wheel is Catman. In the back of the shuttle are seven more hungry, injured football players. It’s dinnertime and Catman is our ride. The most energetic man in all of Alabama. Catman is one of three Shoney’s Inn shuttle drivers. He’s a military veteran, maybe, in his forties or fifties, or sixties, with fading tattoos on his forearms and long gray hair slicked back. He weighs 120 pounds and has three prominent teeth, all on the bottom row, all abnormally long and knifing up toward his nose. He got his name because he meows like a cat. He brings his hands to his mouth and twirls his hips while staring down the object of his feline affection. Catman is my support system in Alabama. When things get weird, he’ll be there to let me know: That ain’t weird, this is weird.