Anytime a mall bomb plot gets foiled, there’s some serious interrogatin’ to be done.
“Who did it, Abdel? Who took the Allah of your youth and turned him into a butcher? Who took the beauty of your childhood faith and smeared it with blood? Who convinced you to commit this atrocity? Give me a name, Abdel! I need a name!” Hicks was standing now, leaning across the table.
Of course, Abdel - last seen with an “ASEK’s five-inch blade” sticking out of his armpit - cracks like a two-week-old egg. The mastermind of their evil scheme? Hakeem Qasim!
There’s a bunch of boring bullshit here I’m gonna largely gloss over - a lot of Hakeem Qasim internal monologue, for instance, or pages and pages of discussion about Hakeem’s lucky brass medallion:
The brass disk had not always been a medallion. Before being melted down and re-created, it had been a 7.62 mm cartridge allegedly removed from an unexpended AK-47 clip that had been fired by Saddam Hussein - a gift for a small boy from his uncle.
Damn. Well, I know what I’m buying my nephews if I can’t score Zhu Zhu Pets this year.
But as we learn more about Hakeem’s childhood and his incredibly overcomplicated early education by Islamofascist dream team “The Cause” (most of which literally takes place at the foot of a guy called “The Scorpion”), a few things stick out:
When he wasn’t being indoctrinated into al-‘Aqran’s hatred of the West, Hakeem was learning languages, cultures, and the intricacies of bomb making. This intense education continued for two years…
The next morning, they left Ramadi. After a journey of many weeks, twelve-year-old Hakeem found himself alone, abandoned at the gate of a monastery.
A fuckin’ MONASTERY.
Meanwhile, after a run-in with autograph-seeking superfans outside their Oakland hotel, the Mustangs are ready to take the field!
As they entered, Riley spotted a guy saying, “Ok, come on, Covington. I came all the way from El Paso. Will you…?”
Riley thought, Nice try, bud, but I can spot a seller from a mile away. At first, Riley had found it tough to tell the true fans from the memorabilia peddlers. After a while they become easier to spot with their five footballs to sign or their stack of glossies and ready black Sharpie.
In other words, this exchange implies that Jason Elam had enough trouble with autograph-flipping eBay sellers in his lengthy - but by no means Canton-worthy - NFL career to call them out in his book about it. And I already thought the sports memorabilia market was fucked!
But on with the pep talks and the pregame prayers: the PFL in a time of terror is serious business. Walter Washburne, Mustangs’ team chaplain, sets the tone, drizzling equivocation on his words like so much delicious Russian dressing on the Reuben I’m gonna eat after I finish writing this shit:
Washburne continued, “The sad thing is that these men were willing to die for a lie. They believed the Koran tells them to kill those who don’t agree with them. Maybe it does or maybe it doesn’t - I’m not an expert on the Koran or in Islam. However, I know I’ve heard plenty of Muslims say that their beliefs don’t include this kind of evil. Whether it does or not, these men believed it did, and they put the lives on the line for their beliefs.”
(Elam - a Hawaii alum - also takes it upon himself to let us know that “rather than showing news updates from Minnesota, the large TV in the room was tuned to ESPN, which was airing the end of the University of Hawaii’s surprise upset over Notre Dame.”)
When the Mustangs take the field, the Bandits fans’ insults are inexplicably focused on kicker Tory Girchwood, who gets the revenge Elam so obviously pined for during those long years at the Coliseum:
With a wink, the kicker turned and punted a rocket from the 20 yard line up toward the second group of fans. The ball sailed just over that group and, looking like a laser-guided missile, spiraled directly into the chest of a particularly foul fan who had been cussing his way down the stadium steps. The ball knocked the wind out of the man and drenched him with his fresh 32-ounce Bud Light. The stunned Bandits faithful looked at the man - one of their own who had been brought to his knees. Then they looked down at Girchwood, who was standing there with a huge smile on his face, surrounded by players who were doubled over laughing. Suddenly the Bandits fans broke into a huge cheer and began chanting his name: “Girchwood! Girchwood!”
Notwithstanding the fact that this would never happen - a kicker assaulting an opposing fan wouldn’t automatically be one of the biggest stories in sports on that particular day, viz. Ron Artest, or Albert Belle, or Frank Francisco? - that isn’t even the part of this football-scented chapter that requires the most suspension of disbelief:
The sideline phones began to erupt almost immediately. On one of them, defensive end LeMonjello (pronounced Le-MAHN-jel-lo, and don’t you dare say it wrong!) Fredericks was getting some feedback from the defensive line coach. LeMonjello was affectionately known by his teammates as “Jiggly,” after the tasty kids’ treat. Coach Cox must have said something that Jiggly disagreed with, because he grabbed the phone with his enormous hands and ripped it off his mount. He held the phone up toward the coach’s box and yelled, “Coach this!”
As a great man once said: “Uh-oh!”
LeMonjello (and Oranjello), for the uninitiated, are examples of a very old folkloric urban legend in which apocryphal parents (almost always African-American) saddle their children with really stupid names - usually either mispronounced medical jargon or semi-scatological terms. If you have a relative who drinks too much Jim Beam and works as a registered nurse, you may have heard one or two examples of this over the years.
As Snopes puts it:
Legends of the “kid named Eczema” ilk attempt to reinforce belief in the rightness of racism or regionalism. Just as parables were used in the Bible to communicate in a simple-to-understand form a behavior thought worthy of emulation, racist legends try to drive home the point that the looked-down-upon group is inherently inferior. Presenting the moral in the form of a story makes it easier to absorb…The more stories like these are told, the more the message of them is worked into the fabric of the people exposed to them. Hearing the “kid named Eczema” story again and again makes it that much more easy to think of Blacks as less intelligent.
So there’s a strong chance that this either implies that Jason Elam is really credulous, kinda racist, or had parents who were big “Love ‘76” fans.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think there was any malicious intent on his part. It’s obvious that this anecdote was included for comic relief, and a great deal of the football-related asides in this book are clearly fictionalized versions of things Elam saw in his NFL career, if only for their odd specificity and total irrelevance to the story alone. (Apropos of nothing: “The buses left promptly at 12:30 p.m. Anyone not there on time was fined five thousand dollars plus the cost of a first-class ticket to wherever the team was playing that week.”)
Or maybe I’m completely wrong and the ‘98 Broncos had a strength and conditioning coach named Nosmo King.