The X-Files: They’re Watching



I sat on a jury years ago, 2nd degree attempted murder case. One day the defendant wore sneakers with his suit to court. It was that day I knew he was guilty.

[11:35AM AUG 30] — UP Engine 8657, Philadelphia, PA

Jim Tomsula: [writing in his notebook] I am now on my way to a fact-finding assignment regarding the second PED suspension of Eagles RT Lane Johnson. Altman Law Firm, the attorneys representing Johnson, will be suing the manufacture of the supplements he has been taking, blaming their product for his failed drug test. Johnson claims that all the supplements he has taken contain only approved ingredients, per the labels, and that this positive test — which will result in a 10-game suspension — is the fault of the manufacturer of his amino acids supplier. I am to meet with Altman’s team tomorrow so am arriving to the Quaker City a day early to complete some ground work and site surveying (and maybe get a bite to eat 😉 ).

The interesting note about Johnson’s file is that, in neither of his positive tests, has there been any circumstantial evidence to suggest his use. Typically, there is a teammate, girlfriend, or associate who has seen or heard the user talk about his PED use. Johnson’s files have none of that and even his most staunch critics seem shocked to hear about the test results. What I am more interested in, however, is that he records experiences around the time of the failed tests that are consistent with those of alien abduction.

[3:45PM AUG 30] — Lincoln Financial Field Facilities Waste Collection, Philadelphia, PA

Tomsula: [lobbing plastic bags out of a dumpster onto the ground] Come on. There has to be something here. Geez, would you look at all this shit the Eagles are throwing out? Foam bats, a box of stop watches, a check for $439 from 2010, and…what is this? Oversized fairy wings or something? This is exhausting. This crap is all useless and, worse yet, inedible!

— [Alley Door Flies Open] —


Sam Bradford: What’s going on out here? You’re making a mess!

Tomsula: [head pops out] Just checking on the, uh, it’s an internal audit of the front office. Making sure they aren’t just tossing out confidential team information all willy nilly, you know?

Bradford: No, that’s not right. I know who you are. I heard Lane talking that they were going to bring in some spooks to check this out. Think this investigation needs to be so cloak and dagger? It’s just a failed drug test.

Tomsula: Well, it sure doesn’t look like Johnson should have tested positive. And definitely not twice.

Bradford: Oh really? So, like, what was he taking? I mean, his career arc has been great. I’d love to know what all he was taking and, you know, what actually made him test positive.

Tomsula: Well, you’re the quarterback so I can see your concern with the health of the line. Unfortunately, what makes Johnson great may be otherworldly.

Bradford: Look, the front office is bringing in some young guns. You need to help me out, Jim. We’re of the old guard, you know? Need to stick to together. So what can I do to help you with this investigation now? [cell phone rings and he turns his back to answer] Yeah?….Ok…yeah….[begins scribbling on a matchbook lying in one of the trash heaps] I’ll have it. Don’t be late. Bye.

Tomsula: It’s all quid pro quo, son, but I’ll tell you this much — don’t start wearing a tinfoil hat anytime soon. It prevents them from reading your thoughts and, if they can’t trace you, they won’t want you.

Bradford: [noticeably irritated] That’s…you’re dumb. This ridiculous. All this shit with this league is just so — fuck it, I’ve got to get to the film room.

Tomsula: Well, the investigation is young. But, before you go [holds up a half-chewed cigar from bottom of the dumpster], got a light?

Bradford: [noticeably irritated] You better come through with this old man. [tosses matchbook at Tomsula and walks back into the facility].


[6:30PM AUG 30] — Main Street Diner, Philadelphia, PA

Tomsula sits alone in a corner booth surveilling the diner. The clientele is quite blue collar and most have been enjoying their early bird dinners since his arrival. Only one man stands out, a dark haired fellow sitting alone who seems intently focused on the television when Jimmy Garoppolo appears on the screen. Tomsula takes a photo of the room for his investigation file.

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After Tomsula puts away his Funsaver, Bradford enters the diner and sits directly across from the man. Tomsula cannot make out the words but both men are visibly tense. After approximately 45 seconds of discreet conversation, Bradford removes a package from under his coat and sets it on the booth beside him. He exits just as quickly as he had entered and the man returns his attention to the muted television over the counter. Tomsula, having a photo of the man, exits the back of the diner where he surprises an escaping Bradford, pinning him against an alley wall.

Tomsula: What was that about now? Who is that?

Bradford: [struggling with no avail] He’s nobody. He’s a…friend.

Tomsula: [pressing harder into Bradford] Bullshit! I know those package dimensions! That was a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 with Intel Corion Blast Space Technology! You’re giving away the playbook, aren’t you?

Bradford: Fine! Yes. But the Eagles aren’t keeping me. I’m too expensive after they picked up Carson and they’ve got trade rights to me. I’m just doing everything I can to land on my feet. I’m too talented to end up in Washington!

Tomsula: Why would Washington want you? They have Kirk Cousins. And how is that guy going to keep you out of Danny’s Dungeon anyways?

Bradford: [his words now racing] Hey man, we all have to look out for ourselves! I’m 1/16th Cherokee! You know how badly Dan Snyder wants a real live Redskin on that roster? I can’t be subject to that experience! I just can’t! So I hooked up with this guy — he just goes by ‘Doc’ — and he runs experiments or something. I don’t really know. Don’t ask, don’t tell kind of thing. He just says he has some pull with New England and, given how terrible the Eagles are with personnel moves, Doc and the Pats seem like a plausible alternative to Washington.

Tomsula: Well, for us to keep this little event with your playbook between me and you, I’m going to need you to set up another meeting with this ‘Doc’ because I have some questions about his operations.

 [10:00PM AUG 30] — Room 207, Crossroads Motel, Kensington, PA

Tomsula: [peeking through peephole] You told him 10 sharp?

Bradford: [laying on the bed with his arms behind his head] I did but I told you that I doubt he’ll come through. He’s cautious. Besides, why do you need him for Lane’s case? You say it’s aliens, right?

Tomsula: [turns away from peephole to address Bradford] I did not say that. I said it’s a possibility. You see, there are reports that extra terrestrials have been studying athletes for decades because of their make up as the greatest physical specimens we offer. Thus, it would make sense that they would run tests on these individuals, including injecting them with various substances, in order to unlock the full potential of the human body. And many of the NFL players who have tested positive and deny use experienced moments of lost time and severe anal pain within weeks of their positive test which signifies —

— [Door Flies Open, Knocking Tomsula to the Ground, Unconscious] —


Lane Johnson: Who are you?! I’ve been following you since you came to town! I saw you going through the garbage at the stadium! I saw you hanging around with New England’s drug guy! Now I see you’re in here with Sam?! Are you two working together to destroy me?

Bradford: You’ve got it all wrong, Lane. This guy is trying to help you! Get inside, we’re waiting for the Doc!

A light begins building from the parking lot, accompanied by a low whining noise.

Johnson: [holding his ears] You’re lying! This is a lie! I can only end this by ending you, Sam! [lunges towards Bradford]

The light builds to a blinding white that washes over the room. The walls shake as the whine grows in frequency before a final flash passes over the room and all is silent.

[9:00AM AUG 31] — Altman Law Group, Philadelphia, PA

Tomsula: …and so, gentlemen, while I do appreciate the position of the NFLPA that Mr. Smith has provided, though I was not conscious to vouch for Johnson’s account of last night, I have not found any further proof of outside tampering or influence, including Bradford’s association with Johnson or any outside supplement manufacturers. I believe that the case is not scientifically provable and the facts provided do not necessarily discredit alien interference. In short, I believe Mr Johnson did not knowingly take performance enhancing drugs but I do believe that the test results are reliable. Even without circumstantial evidence to support the claims, I am willing to testify on behalf of Mr Johnson to this argument. 

DeMaurice Smith: [standing up and latching his briefcase] Well, then, I think we can call this conversation to a close. Mr Johnson is, of course, within his rights to sue any supplement manufacture but the NFLPA will only be involved as to make sure his suspension is not greater than ten games. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’d like to get a hot dog from the vendor out front.

Smith: [to Tomsula’s back as he orders]That was the most succinct and comprehensible summary of our false-positive dilemma as I’ve ever heard.

Tomsula: [not looking away from the window] Here’s a $20, keep the change. [over his shoulder] Dee, why didn’t you back me then?

Smith: Oh Jim, you know how it goes. We got players getting abducted, injected, and sent back to Earth to play football. Even if the defense wasn’t so preposterous, what would be the response? Make these guys report abductions before they take a drug test? Nahhhh, this is just one of those things.

Tomsula: [accepts his order through the window and starts towards the seating] But this is huge. This is credible. This would give us a starting point of what they’re looking for in abductees. This could be breakthrough.

Smith: We know who has been taken. It’s pretty simple: old vet starts having a breakout year, rumblings of PEDs begin, and then our office starts investigating. The illegal pharmaceutical community is a small one, Jim. It doesn’t take us a week to find out what kinds of compounds are being worked on and which players are actively showing interest in the drugs. The players who aren’t, like Johnson, are the abductees. But, I’ll tell you what, for every 50 Clay Mathews out there huffing Iranian horse dick extract, there’s less than one Lane Johnson doing things the right way and just being unlucky.

Tomsula: But to those innocent players, that less than one is too much. Are you even informing the authorities for the sake of research?

Smith: Look, we don’t do any such thing. The numbers are such that the battle isn’t worth fighting. There’s a few false positives, a few more abduction cases, but the bulk of the positives are guys using — which is still not very many. [slips cigarette in the corner of his mouth] So, while we appreciate your efforts in this investigation, we’re probably just going to let Johnson eat this one.

Tomsula: Will you at least tell him that what he saw was real? Poor kid is going to lose his mind here. He needs to know the truth!

Smith: [strikes match and lights his cigarette] Frankly, he doesn’t need to know the truth.

[6:12 PM AUG31] — KCK Engine 2RQ5, New Philadelphia, OH


Tomsula: [writing in his notebook] The Johnson case closed, I am curious to hear the results of his B sample. If it comes back clean, we’ve lost all evidence of his claims, as both he and Bradford are willing to recant their testimonies for league consideration with regard to Johnson’s suspension and Bradford’s trade. The lawsuit, based on my conversations with Altman, is as good as dead. As for DeMaurice Smith, I am again perplexed at the behaviors and judgement of the NFLPA. Though — and only time will tell — I suspect the money trail will easily provide clarity to the host of questionable decisions that mark the recent history of the players union.

I sat on a jury years ago, 2nd degree attempted murder case. One day the defendant wore sneakers with his suit to court. It was that day I knew he was guilty.
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I am terrified that one of the monster-of-the-week editions of this is going to feature a tickle monster.

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Yes, that was pure genius.

Excellent job!