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May 28 2018, 09:30 PM
“ITS GONNA TAKE A LOT TO DRAG ME AWAY FROM YOUUUUUUUUUUUU. THERE’S NOTHING THAT 100 MEN OR MORE COULD EVER DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I BLESSED THE RAINS DOWN IN AFRICAAAAA”
Being reinvigorated is just straight up fucking fantastic. I have life and energy coursing through my veins that I haven’t felt in a while. Of course, that could just be the Hulkamania flowing through me. That never leaves you. Why am I singing one of Toto’s greatest hits you ask? Well first off, it’s a bad ass song. Secondly, I just feel great man. I had a crazy offseason. After getting traded from my home in Colorado to Orange County, I felt about 47 emotions per second. Happiness, Guilt, Excitement, Sadness, etc. If its an emotion, I felt it. The guys in OCO were absolute fucking studs. Made me feel welcome and used me the way I needed to be used. The run to the Ultimus was absolutely spectacular. Yeah, we lost, but sometimes things don’t work out so perfectly. I wasn’t “just happy to be there” of course, but still it was a great ride.
The offseason itself was a crazy rush of hard work and hard choices. I’ve already previously exclaimed to myself, and others, that Carlito Crush is going to be a full time WR this season. The tight end position just wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. I felt I could be doing much more and wrecking this league, if given the opportunity. But, for teams to believe in me, I had to believe in myself. So I went to work three days after the Ultimus. Yeah, I didn’t know where I was going to end up playing, but I knew that I’d be ready to be any team’s #1 WR if needed. The one thing I had going for me is that I had the knowledge to get my body ready for such a switch. Playing tight end in the NSFL meant I had to be a bit bigger and thicker than I’d like to be, mainly for blocking purposes. I had to get leaner and faster. I called my dad up from the Dominican Republic and together we created a nice team of trainers and nutritionists and I got to WORK. We’re talking crossfit training, wind sprints down the beach with a parachute tied to my waist, light weight training. I didn’t lift heavy, but I lifted so many reps.
My diet was restricted to a LOT of water and carbs just went bye bye. I didn’t eat a ton of carbs anyway, but during my “sad period”, I definitely wasn’t the Carlito Crush I used to be in terms of body and diet. We’re getting back to that though. I worked the shit out of my core, and my legs. The pounds melted off, even though it was harder since I was essentially all muscle. In the span of one offseason, I went from 260 pounds at my weigh in for the Ultimus to a tight 225 pounds now. It was insane work, but I did it. I’ve never been faster, yet I’m just as strong. I feel like a god damned monster. I couldn’t be more ready for the NSFL this season. In effort to be more aerodynamic, I even cut my beautiful, lion’s mane afro too. The less drag from my hair helps a bit. I laughed because at this season’s physicals, they’re saying that I’m 6’3 now. I used to be listed at 6’6 with my hair. I find that incredibly hilarious.
That was the hard work, but the hard choices were the real deal man. The NSFL is fun because just after the Ultimus, free agents become free agents ASAP. So there I was, fresh off an Ultimus loss, and my phone started going off again, just like it did when Colorado put my name on the trade block a few months earlier. Respectfully, and understandably, I didn’t respond to anyone. The last thing I’d do is entertain anyone’s texts when I’m sitting in a room with a bunch of guys I just battled with. Especially after losing.
But, the fun began. I received messages from most of the teams in the league. Orange County was already talking to me before free agency started, so they don’t count. But I would receive messages from New Orleans, Baltimore, Colorado, Arizona, and Yellowknife. Yellowknife seemed to miss the memo that I’d be going to WR, and they backed out pretty quickly. And that’s okay, they didn’t have the room for me there. Still glad they reached out.
Colorado did ask when I’d be ready to come home, but Meme was so nice about it when I told him its going to be a bit. I wasn’t ready to just jump back to the Yeti, and with myself becoming a WR, its not a good fit. They have Aaron and Miller. They don’t need me coming back and wrecking their learning curves. Colorado goes 4-10 this year. Just watch.
Arizona was a team that I never had on my radar, along with San Jose (which I guess its good then didn’t contact me?), because they’re clearly rebuilding and I just almost retired over a rebuild. But they have a crazy good plan, and I really like what they’re doing there. It wasn’t for me, but I did leave my conversations with them quite impressed. They’re still washing the stink of the tragedies from earlier in the league’s history off of them, but they’re going to get there sooner than people may think.
That leaves Orange County, New Orleans, and Baltimore. Baltimore has a stud QB and a stud RB. Honestly, going to WR and teaming up would give us a disgusting fucking offense. Avon Blocksdale himself came right up to me and did his best to recruit me. I struggled with this one for a while. I could see how much we’d blow up the league together. BUT, there was one problem. I needed money. All of this offseason training and the new diet didn’t come cheap. I was looking to get paid handsomely-ish. Baltimore didn’t have the cap room for that type of contract. And even then, I STILL had them ranked really highly and started looking into other cash avenues. But when I finally came to a choice, I had to chase the easier money.
New Orleans, you’re fucking fantastic. You made this the hardest decision of my sim life. Talk about the red carpet being rolled out for a guy! Besides GMs, so many players reached out to me to talk about the Second Line and how great that locker room and community is. They could pay me the money I was looking for, they have an awesome group of guys, and I was just blown away by everything they threw at me. I don’t know every single team in the NSFL, but I do know that the Second Line are the example of what teams in this league should strive to be. But of course….
….I resigned in Orange County. A one year deal for $6 Million dollars. Why did I go back? Well, besides the fact that I think Orange County gives me the best path to making the Ultimus again, I truly think that I owe them one. They took a chance on me, paid a price to get me, and I let them down. We should’ve won the Ultimus, and if we had, I’d probably be a Second Line or a Hawk right now. Maybe. The Otters community isn’t the world’s most active, but it’s much more quality over quantity. I don’t have to point out how great of a dude Angus Winchester (timeconsumer
) is, but he’s someone I’ve grown fond of over the last few months. Ian Bavitz (Molarpistols
) is another gem who just treated me with such respect ever since I got to OCO. He’s a star human being. I could list more, but just if they’re an Otter, they’re fantastic. (even fucking Jiggly_333
, the weird little brother I never wanted, but don’t tell him that. He finished second in a race once. True story.)
Like I said though, with Arizona and San Jose rebuilding, and NOLA being *almost* there, it felt like OCO has the best path to walk through the ASFC and make another Ultimus. With Baltimore, Yellowknife, and Philadelphia beating the hell out of each other in the NSFC, I’ll stick with the Otters and hopefully they’ll see just why they traded for me. I’m excited to see what we do in Orange County this year, even I’m only here on a one season contract.
Needless to say, I haven’t been this excited about the NSFL since my draft year in S5. I forgot just how many awesome people are here on the site. The free agency experience was as bad ass as I imagined. I’m really happy to be back in Orange County, for sure. After the preseason showed me how Carlito Crush, Speed Receiver can do (I mean, 8 TDs in 4 games? Pinch me.), I think I have a really good shot to do some damage and win some people some fantasy leagues. (I drafted myself, remember, NOT a TE people! Sorry.) I can’t wait to see how the season plays out. Let’s get it started!
See you on the field,
Carlito Crush (1565 Words)
May 20 2018, 07:46 AM
I found myself pacing outside of the door to the office of Colorado Yeti General Manager Meme Maestro’s office. We had just played our Week 10 game against Philadelphia, and it was another loss for us, 30-3. After incredible amounts of internal debate, I had decided I had enough. I was going to tell him that I was testing free agency, to see what my value is around the league, and that I thought maybe he should trade me now to get something for me if I left.
I know I’ve fucked around on Colorado a lot. I’m a very, very sore loser. I don’t bust my ass for nothing, and not getting results is something I’m not used to. But I’m also loyal. I’ve wanted nothing more than to win games in Colorado, and eventually take the Ultimus. But the plan we had didn’t work, and we had to hit the reset button. They took a huge chance on me at first overall in the draft, and I just didn’t deliver on how I wanted to. I failed them a bit too.
I couldn’t bring myself to walk into his office to tell him. I was nervous, torn up inside, because I didn’t want him or my teammates to hate me if I left the Yeti. It’s more of a “its not you, its me” thing. I don’t know. I paced, and paced, and paced and finally just ran into the room like a Crush Hurricane. Naturally, he wasn’t even there. It took me twenty minutes to work up the courage and Maestro wasn’t even there. I had to laugh out loud.
“What’s so funny?”, a familiar voice said behind me.
Meme had just gotten back to his office from his lunch, or something. I told him I needed to talk to him, so we went over to his desk and sat down.
“What can I do for you?”, he asked.
“OH MY GOD I’M INCREDIBLY SORRY PLEASE DON’T HATE ME BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO HERE AND IM NOT HAPPY AND I WANT TO DO MORE WITH MY CAREER AND YOU SHOULD TRADE ME BUT I STILL LOVE IT HERE AND I’M SO CONFUSED AND…”
“Carlito! Slow down!” he said with a chuckle.
I took a deep breath and told him that I wanted him to trade me. When he asked why, I semi-calmly explained how I wanted to test free agency, and I wasn’t sure I’d come back to Colorado. I love the Yeti (true story) and that I wanted them to get something for me instead of just losing me for nothing. He asked about why I wanted to leave, if it was more than just the losing. And I told him that while losing was a big part of this, there was a bit more.
“Like what?” he asked.
“Well, I don’t think I’m being used correctly. I know Applehort is new, so he’s not going to be a superstar right away. A lot of routes don’t even let me use my speed properly. I feel like I could be a faster, stronger player than I am now. I don’t feel like I fit in with the team either. At least, I don’t think my wants will mesh with what the team is doing. I know we’re going to start winning games really soon, but I don’t think it will be with me at tight end.”
“And why not?”
“Well, I don’t want to play tight end anymore. I really think I’m best used as a wide receiver. I’m not 100% sure, but I think that with all the training I do, and how hard I can play, I’d make a better receiver than tight end. As you can see, that doesn’t fit in with the future of Colorado. You have Dwayne Aaron and Howard Miller already, and they’re going to be super duper stars. I couldn’t just move to tight end and take a starting spot from one of them like that. I was a big piece of the failed rebuild man, and by the time this team is really ready to dominate, I’m going to be on the downside of my career and I won’t contribute as much as I’d like to be. There’s a locker room culture shift that happened and now I don’t feel as much of a part of the team as I used to. A lot of this probably has to do with me, and my own messed up brain. But It’s still how I’m feeling. I’m not staying as invested in this league, team, and myself as I should be, and I also think a change of scenery could be good for me. I don’t want to retire too soon because I fell out of love with football. I’m sorry.”
Maestro sat back in his chair, deep in thought. I was expecting some sort of backlash or chat about how they want to keep me around. Instead, I was met with something else.
“Okay, we’ll put you on the trade block. Let me talk to Sapp (Co-GM) and we’ll see what we can do for you. I don’t want to lose you, you’ve been great for us, but the last thing I’d ever want it to keep my players around when they don’t want to be here or they’re unhappy. I want to see you succeed on the field, even if that means it’s on another team. We’ll keep in touch about this, but until then, don’t say anything to the team.”
We shook hands and I left, feeling relieved. I was so worried that this would end badly, and instead he was awesome about it. I headed home, nervous yet excited for the next couple of days to see what would happen.
My phone rang about an hour later. It was Sapp. I thought that maybe this is where I’d get yelled at. Sapp and I have worked together to make Colorado better, but sometimes we didn’t see eye to eye on things. When Pierno was a failure, I was constantly in Sapp’s ear telling him what we should be doing. When Pierno decided to quit being a quarterback, I started throwing and practicing to switch to QB. Sapp told me he wouldn’t allow me to become the QB, and that we should draft one. He had spoken out against players just becoming quarterbacks in this league before and he didn’t want to be a hypocrite. Then, before this season began, I did tell him to trade me. I wanted us to get some picks, I’d play somewhere for a season, and then just come back in free agency. He didn’t like the shadiness of that, so he said he’d never sign on for something like that to go down, regardless of how often it does in the sports world. He has a vision for how he wants Colorado to look as a franchise, and he sticks to it. It’s quite honorable.
I answered the phone with great hesitation. “Hello?”.
“Hey man, so you want to be traded huh?”
I went and told Sapp everything I told Maestro in his office. Sapp was very understanding, and he actually did double check to make sure this wasn’t some stunt where we just rip a team off and I came right back in free agency. I told him that if I DID come back in free agency, it wouldn’t be because of this scenario.
That was all he needed to hear I guess. He said they’re going to do everything they can to ship me to an Ultimus contender, and that teams will be eventually contacting me as soon as I’m officially place on the trade block.
The next day, my phone went berserk. I woke up, and went to the gym, as I do every day. I showered, dressed, and finally turned my phone back on. I hate being disturbed at the gym, you know? My phone was FILLED with messages from other teams. Honestly, it was overwhelming. In the next few hours, I would hear from Yellowknife, Orange County, Baltimore, New Orleans, and Philadelphia. Everyone wanted to add me to their team, and fast. They all had the same type of questions, mostly pertaining to signing an extension if they traded for me.
That was the hard part. I really have my heart set on testing free agency. I have this beautiful vision of a bidding war and having teams really present me with fun ways that show how I’d help their teams. New Orleans actually came to me with a pretty impressive report right off the bat. There were slideshows and potential stat lines all over the place. They really went above and beyond that that did impress me, but a ‘young team on the rise’ was what I just was going through in Colorado, so I didn’t really want to go through that again. I told the Second Line what I felt, that I wanted to test FA no matter what, so I wouldn’t sign an extension. Obviously, they didn’t want to trade for me, and graciously bowed out of the race, since it wouldn’t make sense to trade for someone when you’re not making the playoffs
The other teams were interested in me based off my athletic abilities. Let’s face it, they’re not going by career stats, thank goodness. However, this lead to some interesting conversations about playing different positions. One team wanted me to switch to wide receiver right away (I had told them about my game plan there), so that was pretty cool. Another wanted me to play tight end, receiver, and defensive end? That was really random. I wasn’t ‘all in’ on that idea, but I said if any team traded for me, I’d do whatever they asked. The last thing I’d do is walk into a new locker room and be some tough guy who isn’t willing to do whatever it takes to win. That’s not how you earn respect. The other teams seemed pretty confident that with the right game plan and coaching, they could open my game up and I could make a difference playing tight end. That was also okay with me.
But, the one thing I wanted to do was be honest with everyone. I told every single team that contacted me that I wanted to test free agency, as I’ve said before. This scared some teams away. Nobody wants to really pay top dollar for 5 games of one player, no matter who it is. All of a sudden the trade winds died down, and I wasn’t sure if anything was going to happen. Did I just ruin all of the fun? Did everyone decide they’d just wait until free agency? If that were the case, I’d have never told Colorado to trade me. That just makes me look like an asshole if they can’t pull it off. Its really tough to decide what makes everyone happy. You just can’t do it. So, I decided to make me happy, regardless if the outcome wasn’t what I wanted. Can’t fault me for that. Or can you?
As I was ripping my own brain apart, I got the call that would change my career. It was the Yeti telling me that after some hard negotiations, I’ve been traded. For a split second every single team raced through my head as to where I could go. Finally, it was revealed that I’d be heading to the Orange County Otters, the three time defending Ultimus champions.
I hung up the phone, and I was so conflicted. I shed a few tears, I won’t lie. The emotional roller coaster that was my time in Colorado was over, or at the very least on pause. I felt like such a jerk to kind of force this trade, but Meme and Sapp were just so damn nice that they did the best they could for me. They’re studs, and I thank them for everything they had done for me in Colorado.
Getting to Orange County was a tremendous experience. There was so much fanfare at the thought of the Otters getting a “stud” and a “fantastic piece to help them win the Ultimus again”. Were these people and reporters really talking about ME? That’s insane! All I ever heard from the media was how I was a bust, or a let down, and that I failed to lead Colorado to the playoffs, even though I was trying my best out there.
This whole new era just woke me the fuck up man. I rediscovered my love for the NSFL, and for football in general. I never realized JUST how bad I was getting mentally with all of the poor showings and losing. I was energized and ready to run through a wall for Orange County. I felt I owed the Otters everything I could give them, because they took a chance on trading for me. I’ll admit, knowing I was hitting free agency helped a bit too. A great showing on a world class football team would really increase my profile to other teams around the league.
The first person I encountered from my new home on the Otters was Angus Winchester. He’s a, um, character. He immediately scowled at me and asked who the hell I was. When I stuttered, he just flashed this big smile and gave me a giant bear hug. He picked me off the ground like I was a child. This is not someone you want to mess with, oh goodness no. He directed me to the office of Cecil Otter, the General Manager of the Otters. He just paid for me, so I figured I should say hello, even though his name sounds more like the team’s mascot instead of a general manager.
I walked into Cecil’s office and I was once again overwhelmed by the positive things being said about me. “Carlito! We’re so lucky to have you! We didn’t think we’d get you! You’re going to put us over the top once again!”. I just told him I’m willing to do whatever he needs me to do. I just want to win some games, and if that means I have to play punter, I’ll do it. The last thing I’d ever want is a bad reputation for not being a team player.
He just laughed and said “Actually we have some concerns. How is it that someone of your caliber has only scored ONE touchdown in his career?” Taken aback, I didn’t know what to say exactly before he spoke up again. “Yeah, we’re going to have to fix that for sure.”. I didn’t want any preferential treatment though, and he said not to worry. “We have Mike Boss and an explosive offense. We don’t have to force feed anyone the ball. It’ll just happen. Watch.”
So, I did.
My first game with Orange County was so weird. We traveled to New Orleans to play the Second Line. It was so weird seeing that Otters jersey with “Crush” on the back. Everything was orange instead of the familiar maroon I’ve been donning for the last two and half seasons. The Second Line is an up and coming team, for sure. Even though I only got a week of practice with the Otters, I felt like I’d been there forever. Boss and I got some early chemistry going as we battled New Orleans tooth and nail. I’d wind up with an 8 catch, 74 yard performance that may not have been my best game ever, but what mattered most to me wasn’t the stats, it was the fact that Brad Madlad’s FG with 1:56 left in the game gave the Otters a 23-20 victory.
We WON! I’d been waiting to win a football game for what felt like forever man! WE FUCKING WON! I ran into the locker room and was dancing and giving hugs to everyone on the team. And then I took a step back and realized that nobody else was cheering with me. Teammates looked kind of, I don’t know, mad? It turns out that only beating New Orleans by 3 points isn’t exactly Earth shattering awesomeness for the Otters like it was for me. It was almost seen as a let down, but the team was pretty happy we battled hard and still pulled out the win. Someone mentioned out loud “That effort won’t be good enough to beat the Wraiths. We have to be better.” I realized I needed to get more serious than ever at that moment.
The next week was even more awesome though. It was my first home game for my new team. I’ll never forget the jitters I felt standing in the tunnel as they announced the offense to the home crowd. The reaction I got was amazing. The fans went NUTS when they said my name on the PA system. I really felt at home.
Our opponent for this game was the San Jose Sabercats. San Jose had been trying for quite some time to overtake the Otters, but their window was closing fast and they weren’t nearly as good as they had been in years past. My home debut wasn’t the grand “12 catch, 150 yard, 3 TD” game I dreamt about the night before, but it was another solid effort as I went 7 for 79 yards. The team just couldn’t find the end zone and we walked away with a 16-3 victory, thanks to our incredible defense. Props to San Jose for playing us really tough. The vibe around the team wasn’t as disappointing as it was the week before. We wanted to focus on improving in some areas, and to see how we look against San Jose in two weeks to gauge how we’re doing with that.
The next week, the Philadelphia Liberty came to town. They were playing great football, so the team was really ready for this game. We had an AWESOME week of practice, and the coaches really installed some plays for me this week. After two weeks of not entirely looking like the 3 time Ultimus champions, we really wanted to make a statement here, or die trying. Philadelphia just didn’t have an answer for our offense, and we were CLICKING man. Boss threw three touchdowns in the first quarter alone. He’s a machine, no doubt about it. We had a huge lead at halftime, and to the Liberty’s credit, they kept battling. Finally, in the third quarter, it happened. I beat my coverage with an inside move and Boss found me wide open. I sprinted into the end zone on a 30 yard touchdown catch. The stadium went nuts, I went nuts. Boss ran up to me and just said “There’s more where that came from.” and took off. I was only 5 for 55 this game, but it didn’t matter. I scored. We won 40-9. I was happy.
Our last game of the season saw us rolling into San Jose for a rematch with the Cats. They desperately needed a win to keep their playoff hopes alive. We were seeing how our adjustments would shake out against them. I’d say they worked okay. The defense held Orosz to only 120 yards passing. But Shane Weston’s 60 yard punt return kept San Jose alive and we actually went into halftime tied at 14 a piece. Then the third quarter happened. Mike Boss found me open in the end zone for a 1 yard TD. And then with us driving near the end of the quarter, he threaded the needle over a defender’s hands and I caught my second touchdown of the day, a 14 yard strike. Boss would throw 5 TDs on the day, and the Otters won 37-21. I had 11 catches for 92 yards and the two touchdowns, which was awesome. The score wasn’t too indicative of the game though, as San Jose benefitted from two return TDs.
Just like that, I was in uncharted territory. I was winning games and scoring touchdowns. And now, it was time to play in a playoff game! How awesome is that? As tough as it was to leave Colorado, this has been a fantastic experience so far for me. Winning our conference meant that we got to play another home game, in the playoffs. The Arizona Outlaws, the former ‘model’ franchise before scandal rocked the NSFL, managed to sneak into the playoffs in Week 14. All that got them was a date with disappointment and sadness.
The Otters were ON FIRE in this playoff game, as Mike Boss would throw for almost 500 yards and connected on 4 TDs. Erlich Burnsman rushed for two of his own, and caught another one and the Otters wiped the floor with the Outlaws, 48-24. There’s just a different atmosphere around the city and the stadium when the team you’re on is going to be playing in a playoff game. I could feel it all week. I really wanted to win this game, of course, but it just felt special. I took extra care of myself all week, getting more rest than usual, and even getting a massage every other day to keep my muscles relaxed, but strong. I responded to my own personal challenge with an 8 catch, 95 yard day. It was a spectacular time as we won the game and earned a spot in the Ultimus.
I know from experience how hard it can be to just win ONE game in the NSFL, so I could’ve never imagined how hard it’d be to win THE game in the NSFL. Even when we won the Ultimini in Portland, the vibe was different. This game had bigger stakes. Orange County was going for their fourth straight title, so they’ve been here before. I, of course, have not. Our opponents? The Philadelphia Liberty, who just a few weeks ago we smacked around 40-9. This is going to be a much harder game, of course. I have never trained harder in my life for a game. I stayed later after practice with Boss to get more reps in. I wanted this more than anything. We were ready, we were prepared. It was time to win the Ultimus.
Fate, of course, had other plans. Josh Garden took the opening kick off 103 yards to give the Liberty a 7-0 lead. While we had a good drive of our own, it stalled out in Philly territory and we had to settle for a field goal to make it 7-3. The Liberty were on fire though, and before we knew it we were down 21-3. Boss found Phelps for a TD to cut the lead to 21-10, and we rebounded with a field goal before the half to make it 21-13. It was a battle. The second half was more of the same however, we kept stalling out drives in the red zone, and settling for field goals. We got the score to 21-19 in the third, but, living legend Paul DiMirio grabbed a nice touchdown to give the Liberty a 28-19 lead that they’d hold the rest of the way. We lost the Ultimus. I was dejected. I personally had a nice game, 10 catches for 89 yards, but we couldn’t make the big plays in the red zone. Credit to the Philadelphia defense for holding down the fort and not allowing any back breaking TDs when we were putting on a ton of pressure.
So, that was it. It’s all over. The end of the S7 season was just straight up bananas for Carlito Crush. In such a short span of time, I went from considering retirement to being thrust directly into the Ultimus picture. I met new people and made new friends. It was pretty awesome, I won’t lie. Colorado was always a great locker room environment, but we never won. With Orange County, the locker room isn’t as active as the Yeti’s is, but its still pretty nice, even with Tegan Atwell there. But you win. And they know how to win. And they believe in you. I had some fantastic games this season and came within a hair of winning the Ultimus. Eight weeks before that, I thought I’d never win another game!
Now, I’m a free agent. Because I took way too long to finish writing this, teams have already contacted me and have put on the full court press. Its been humbling, to say the least. There’s a lot of good people in this league, and it bothers me that I’m going to have to disappoint some of them. I will say though that I’ll be switching to wide receiver for sure for S8 and beyond. I love playing Tight End, but I feel that my talents and skills are better suited for a different role. I can be much faster than I’m showing. I can catch better. I can score more. I’m working my ass off this offseason to work on becoming one of the top WRs in the game. I can’t wait to see how this all turns out. Thanks for reading, though I doubt anyone got this far.
Have a good one,
Carlito Crush (4213 words)
Apr 22 2018, 10:57 AM
It’s just rough man.
I’ve only been in the league for two seasons and 4 weeks, but it feels like I’ve endured an entire career’s worth of games, drama, and everything in between. The Colorado Yeti, the squad that drafted me first overall in the S5 draft, just played the San Jose Sabercats in Week 4 of the NSFL season. We lost 33-9, at home in Denver. The loss set a milestone for me. It was my 30th loss of my career. In 32 games, my personal record is 2-30. That’s a lot of losing. Especially for a guy who’s just a big fan of winning, and has done so everywhere I’ve ever played, most notable Ohio State and Portland. Heck, even the Big 10 team in the college tourney brought me a lot of winning.
I took that attitude to Colorado this season, and I’m still just met with disappointment. In four games this season, I’ve caught EIGHT passes. EIGHT. I’ve gotten 73 yards. That used to be a really great half for me. Now it’s what I do in four games? Come on man. To nobody’s surprise, I still haven’t caught a touchdown yet either. Meanwhile, there’s rookie tight ends that already have 27 catches in this league. What the hell am I doing wrong? I’m easily the most gifted tight end in the league this side of the immortal Paul DiMirio. Much respect to that guy. And I know that I’ve had some bad luck with the team I was on, but even still, great players find ways to make plays no matter what. I just can’t seem to get anything going here, and its starting to cause me to almost, I don’t know, lose interest in football? I’ve missed some trainings here and there, and sometimes I take a week off now. I don’t mean to, I just, forget. I don’t like the person I’m becoming in this league, and I don’t know what else to change.
Let me be clear here. I know in the past, I’ve lost my mind at how terrible Nick Pierno was. How the team was just dog shit with no direction, and that made us the joke of the league. But this time, Colorado isn’t the problem. We NAILED this rebuild. I mean, look at this insane offense: Applehort at QB, future Hall of Famers in Dwayne Aaron (Supersquare04
) and Howard Miller (BenLongshaw
) at WR. And that’s not even including Mark Grau (keanex
), who’s yet again making the DSFL his personal bitch as he’s the leading WR there. That’s some insane Yeti firepower that no team is going to be able to properly cover as this team grows and the other teams in this league get older. We’re going to have the best three WRs in the entire league. Those three are going to be directly responsible for so many defensive coordinators losing their jobs, it won’t even be funny.
But the more I look at it, the more I’m realizing that I don’t really have a place here anymore. I feel almost like an outsider on my own team now. Those guys are the new Yeti. They represent the rebuild that will take the team to the level this franchise has been waiting for. I represent the failed rebuild. The one that had so much hope, but in reality just wasted everyone’s time. The rebuild that caused the Yeti to have to trade the best RB in NSFL history, Boss Tweed. The rebuild that gave us the embarrassment of an 0-14 season when we were supposed be contending for a playoff spot. I came into Colorado looking to be the game changing franchise player, and all I’ve done is disappoint on the field, and off of it.
It’s such a weird feeling. Whether the league likes it or not, the Colorado Yeti are coming. This rebuild was done the right way, and we nailed all of our draft picks. The core is strong. The locker room is fantastic, and everyone is positive. Yet at the same time, I feel like I don’t fully belong anymore to this squad. My performance is showing that. The Yeti have kind of gone in a different direction, and I truly wonder whether or not Carlito Crush fits into the future plans anymore.
It wasn’t for a lack of trying. During the offseason, I offered to change my training regiment to be more of a wide receiver type of player. Then we struck oil in the draft and got Miller AND Grau. I also offered to become the new quarterback. If others can do it in this league, surely I could do it! But no, management wasn’t a fan of that type of switch, and decided they’d rather step down than have me give it a go. Not wanting any more negative press surrounding the Yeti, I backed off of that idea. So, as a result, I’m still a tight end in a system that doesn’t seem to enjoy using a superstar at tight end. It’s frustrating for sure.
It’s still refreshing to not be mad at the team itself. Colorado is going to be a hot destination for a lot of free agents very soon. I’m just not entirely sure that it’s going to be the hottest destination for me anymore. Like I said, I’m not fitting in here, and I might be better off making a difference somewhere else in a system that needs someone of my talents. The less I perform here, the less I’ll feel like I should be giving a damn about football. I’m disgusted with how I’ve missed trainings and things that could help me improve. A change of scenery might help that, might reignite the fire that is truly starting to feel like its missing. That’s not a problem with Colorado either, that’s a problem with Carlito Crush. I’m trying to stay positive. I’ve been getting advice from many players, my father, and teammates on how to keep it going. Tough times are a part of the business. It’s up to me to figure out how to get through them. (1023)
Ready for Grading.
Mar 3 2018, 07:07 PM
That’s what they’re starting to call us. How the hell did this happen man? How did we become even more of a joke in this league? This isn’t quite what I signed up for, you know? When I was drafted first overall by the Yeti in the S5 Draft, I couldn’t have been happier. There’s a certain prestige that comes with that title, you know? First overall pick in the draft. Even now, it still gives me shivers. I knew ahead of the draft that Colorado was taking me. The GMs, Meme and Sapp, sold me on how Colorado was on the upswing. They said that it’d be a bit rough in Year 1, that we’d only win 2 games. I took that as a challenge, saying we’d win 4. Yeah, we only won two games, but man we were really close in quite a few others. A bounce here and a bounce there and we’d have made that 4 wins happen. Sadly, we lost Brice Boggs to retirement, but all was not lost! We had a pretty good draft and everyone in that locker room has been busting their asses to get better every single day. S6 was going to be a good year for the Yeti. We signed a stud Linebacker in AC Hackett to give us one hell of a linebacking corps. Nick Pierno took a step further in his development, vowing to use his arm more than his legs. Future WR of the year Dwayne Aaron came on board, and we literally STOLE another first round pick from San Jose next season. Things were looking SO GOOD. . .
…until they came crashing down.
We suck. Pierno runs just as much as he ever has, and even though he’s a good guy, mixing in these rushing fumbles to go along with his patented red zone interception has just been awful. Sure, he uses his receives okay, but I’m easily his most talented pass catcher out there and the dude just doesn’t see me. Yeah, I FINALLY SCORED A TOUCHDOWN. It took 20 games, but my 5 for 59 and 1 TD game is a career high. I have this sickening feeling that with a real quarterback, I’d be torching this league and people would start saying “DiMiro who?”. But alas, we keep running this tired spread offense with a quarterback who really can’t run it. If he just sat back and worked solely on his passing, we’d be in a better place. And I feel bad saying that shit because Nick man, he’s been working hard. He has. He’s been dynamite in the locker room as a leader and he’s been putting in more work than ever. But its like in games, he just defaults back to his roots. He needs to be like, reprogrammed, I don’t know. We had a killer draft in the secondary. Storm Woods and Bobby Ruckus were supposed to come in and solidify what Andre Bly Jr. has been building back there. But once they got paid, it seems like they got a bit lazy. They’re behind on training and they’re getting left behind in the league. Our D-line is nice, our linebackers are tremendous, but man that secondary can get TORCHED. Even Pierno could throw on them, its that bad. We need more from them. Teams have already seemed to have learned how to beat us deep pretty easily. And then there’s the GM bullshit. Our general manager walked into the locker room recently and told us that the franchise is about 6th on his “List of Important Things to Do”. HOW IS THAT OKAY? The dude should just step down. A winning atmosphere starts at the top. Our Co-Gm is a stud, and he should be allowed to run this team as he sees fit, and hire a Co-GM that will bust his ass. Again, it STARTS. AT. THE. TOP.
We deserve better. BOSS TWEED DESERVES BETTER. Ive busted my ass daily for this team. I offered to play wide receiver. I’ve offered to play fucking quarterback. I’ve offered to have the team trade me and get some value because at this rate we’re fucking regressing and since the offense doesn’t use its mother fucking stud tight end at all, whats the point in having one? “Yeah dude, I own a Ferarri”. BUT YOU KEEP IT IN THE GARAGE YEAR ROUND. Keyshawn Johnson once made headlines demanding the ball. I should do the same at this point, I don’t know. The players put in the work, so I’m not even really calling them out. Maybe we need a new coach. We need SOMETHING to change though. We need a fucking spark. People need to put in even more work, and we can see where we end up.
This team made me a lot of promises when I was drafted. In turn, I promised them I’d stick it out and we’d win together. And I still want that. But since they’re not following through on their promises, should I still have to follow through on mine?
I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Do I really want to stick around here if all we’re going to get is ineptitude? I want to win, and I want to win badly. There’s no shame in that. I’m starting to feel like unless some major things happen soon, I’ll just be wasting away here. My father taught me and instilled in me some bad ass loyalty, and I’m really trying to keep it going. I feel bad even giving this speech, but something needs to happen, and it has to be more than just “I agree.”. We need actions, something. Its like the late, great Owen Hart said “Enough is enough and its time for a change!”. Like, we beat the Legion/Second Line twice last season, and now they’re SMOKING us 23-7. What the hell? I’m just frustrated man. I’m not *really* calling out my friends here either. I know they’re trying. But I needed to vent a bit. This is getting ridiculous. (1012)
Feb 11 2018, 09:27 AM
Crush, Crushed, Baby
By Dan Portman, The Denver Post
Being a new sports writer in a city that’s crazy for sports is always a daunting challenge. Your first article is exactly the same as making a first impression. You have one shot, one opportunity to make a good one. Do you capture it? Or do you just let it slip? I came to Denver at just about the right time. The Avalanche and the Nuggets are currently involved in seasons where they’re on the border of making the playoffs. The Rockies are a little bit away from spring training. And the Yeti’s 2-12 season is slowly seeping out of fans’ memories.
I figured I’d be a made man for my first article. All I needed to do was get my hands on a nice ‘Why we’re going to make the playoffs’ piece to get fans on my side. When I walked in my editor’s office to get my first assignment, I wasn’t quite prepared for what my earballs heard.
“Find Carlito Crush and interview him on his awful first season, and comment on his bust potential.”
That’s thing about football. Even when it shouldn’t be front and center, it still is. I just said “okay.”, and went off to call the Yeti PR manager. What was I going to do, say no? I hit our Yeti contact and they gave me Crush’s phone number. We spoke, and he was open to the interview. He told me to just come over to his place and we could do it. Easy peasy.
Or so I thought.
I went to Crush’s home the next day. Except he wasn’t there. The house looked a bit closed up, and I thought perhaps I got my dates wrong. I called Crush again, but his phone was off. Undeterred, I decided to come back the next day. And the next. And finally a fourth day, same result. I don’t think he was around at all. It was so weird, I was starting to get worried. As I was getting ready to leave the house, Crush’s neighbor came over. “I see you keep coming here. Carlito isn’t home. He’s in the Dominican.”
Carrie was an older woman who lived by herself. She took a minute to talk about how it was to have Crush as a neighbor. “Oh, he’s great. Every time he’s home he cuts my lawn or helps me bring in the groceries. I live by myself so it’s awesome to have a helping hand close by. He’s so nice. Much better than that Noble guy who used to live here. With Logan, every time you saw him it was like he was a different person. Carlito is just a delight.”
A few days later, my phone rang from an overseas number. It was Carlito. He explained that when he said I needed to meet him at “home”, he meant the Dominican Republic. He lost his phone on a deep sea fishing expedition off the coast and he finally got a new one shipped to him. He invited me to meet him there, and I mean, how could I not?
As I got off the plane, Carlito was there to pick me up. He took me to his home, which come to find out was his parents’ home. He introduced me to his parents, and they’re just the nicest people one could ever meet. Carlito told me that he’s just going to have me spend time with him because he has a routine and he needs to stick with it. With that, we went to the gym.
Carlito was in the squat rack, just lifting weights that my skinny reporter legs would never experience. I had to get started on this interview though, so I just came out and asked him “Are you a bust?”. I had hoped he’d realized it wasn’t that serious of a question. He smiled.
“It’s hard to qualify myself as a bust after one season. But man, it was a rough one for me. I trained hard. I practiced even harder. But I didn’t get more than 31 yards in any game. I didn’t score a touchdown. I came into Colorado expecting to set the league on fire. That might be cocky, but it’s honestly all I’ve ever done. I did it in high school. I did it in college at Ohio State. I did it in Portland. I was the number one overall pick. I was supposed to set this league ON FIRE. Instead, I was humbled. So often I’d just have the ball knocked out of my hands, or the pass would be just off. Something always went wrong for the most part. It was almost impossible how bad my luck was at times. I know, I came out and promised the fans of the Yeti that I’d be winning them games ASAP. Instead, I was just another guy out there. It looks even worse when we drafted Andre Bly, Jr. at pick 2 and he became this amazing defensive player right away. That guy is so good. So it makes my shortcomings look even worse.”
How frustrating was this season for you? How did you handle it?
“Poorly. Besides my failings as a player, I had a goal of 4 wins for the team. The constant losses and poor personal play had me in a bad way. I was becoming a bit of a jerk in the locker room. I started having outbursts and being just a negative jerk. It led to me and Pierno having a screaming match with each other.”
What was that about?
“Honestly, I became pretty vocal about how we were this team that ran the ball too much. Like, I get that we have Boss Tweed, and Pierno is a scrambling QB, but he really needed to throw the ball a bit more too, in my opinion. Too often I was open and he’d miss it and just take off running. I felt like I couldn’t help the team if I didn’t have the opportunities. It was about Week 6 when I had like 2 catches for 6 yards as we lost to the Hawks 34-3. I was a complete jerk and he stepped up and put me in my place. He was right, I wasn’t some superstar in the NSFL yet. I didn’t earn anything to act like I deserved the ball more. That was the first time I realized how bad I was becoming mentally. I was becoming a distraction and not a leader like I wanted to be.”
So what did you change?
“Just my mindset. I had to keep telling myself that before I was even drafted, the GMs here in Colorado told me that we’d be looking at 2 wins this season. That was the goal. I was the one that turned into 4 wins in my head. I truly felt we were that good. Honestly, if we got a couple of breaks, we had really good shot at being 6-8. But back to the question, when I got frustrated, I would just remind myself that it’s going to get better. This was the bottom floor, and it was a marathon not a sprint. This is the “bottom” we’d be starting from before we win the Ultimus soon.”
Why do you think you could have been 6-8? That’s a pretty bold statement from a 2-12 team.
“2-12 bothers me. We’re much better than that. I’ve been watching tapes of games, lets get out of here and I’ll show you what I’m talking about.”
With that, Crush finished his workout and after a nice lunch that his mother cooked us, we went into a film room. Crush was adamant that they were closer to his goal of 4 wins than people realized. He popped in some tapes and showed me.
“Check this out. This was Week 2 against Orange County. We lost this game 20-17, when the spread was something like 11 and a half points. Our defense played amazing against the Otters. We had the ball in the 4th quarter, and we just got the ball back on an interception. We got the ball on the 38 yard line and had 1st and 10. But then it fell apart. Swing pass to Boss, dropped. 2nd and 10, I got the ball knocked out of my hands. Then Pierno over throws Wheaties who was wide open. 4th and 10. 55 yards is a long field goal, so the coaches decided to go for it. You’d think we’d have to throw here. Nope, they run the ball. On 4th and 10. Boss gains 1 yard, we turn the ball over on downs. We beat ourselves here. The next week we played San Jose. We lost 21-14. In a hard fought game, they scored to take the lead with about 4 minutes to go. We just went into two minute drill mode and we were driving down the field. We took our timeouts. We had to get out of bounds to stop the clock and we just didn’t do that. We got tackled inbounds, and time ran out when we got to the 24 yard line of San Jose. Poor time management screwed that up. Oh, here’s another one. In Week 8, we lost to Arizona 28-21. We gave up another touchdown with about 4 minutes left. We ran the same scheme that brought us success against San Jose. We got down to the red zone against the Outlaws. We had the momentum. And then Pierno throws a pick on the 15 yard line and that ended the game. That was a heart breaker. The Outlaws player made a hell of a play on the pick, but even still. Just another close one. Two weeks later, San Jose again. We’re down 24-20. We’re driving once again. We have the momentum. All of a sudden a tipped ball gets picked off with two minutes to go at the 24 yard line of the Cats. Another game we should’ve had. The losses piled up, and so did the frustration. We were SO CLOSE to breaking out.”
Don’t you think it was better to lose those games and get the better draft pick?
“Yes and no. Honestly, the team needed a few more wins because that way we’d look like an up and coming team to free agents. We can accelerate our game plan with a key free agent signing or two. Of course, getting the second overall pick helped us commit highway robbery on San Jose when we traded it. Our draft honestly couldn’t have gone better. We deserve an A+ draft grade here. I couldn’t be happier with how it worked out.”
What do you mean? Talk about the draft and the rookies.
“Let’s just get the trade out of the way: We’re currently being investigated by police on potential rape charges. We dropped from pick 2 all the way to pick 3 and stole a first round pick from San Jose for next season in the process. And on top of it? We got the guy we were going to take all along. Dwayne Aaron is going to be a star in this league. He was our target all along. So we got our guy and a first rounder next year? Thank you! But yeah, so, it wasn’t any surprise when we took Aaron. We need star power at wide receiver, and he’s it. He’s going to slot in and be a stud for us right away. He dominated the DSFL, and he’s going to do it in the big leagues too. At pick 9, we brought the Ruckus. While we have All-World Cornerback DBJ, we can still use help in the secondary. Bobby can come in and bring some fire back there for us. Micycle McCormick can kick field goals from the moon, so he’s going to really help us out there. Storm Woods might have slipped a bit in his training, and I truly believe we got a steal here with him. He’s going to help us replace Boggs, who retired. He’s incredibly important to the success of the franchise short and long term. But as good of a steal Woods was, Grey Slax was even better. Slax was on track to be the top receiver in the draft, a surefire first rounder. You can’t deny his talent. However, the potential stardom got to his head. All of a sudden, training took a backseat and his foray into the nightlife of loose women and cocaine is well documented. He was off of most people’s draft boards and his career was really in doubt. Just before the draft he went through rehab, and recommitted himself to his craft. While there’s still some questions to be had, my conversations with him have me thinking he’s on his way to proving the doubters wrong. There’s a very real chance that the Colorado Yeti just drafted their version of Phelps and Westfield.”
You know that’s a bold statement.
“And I’m A-OK with making it. Like I said, our draft grade should be an A+. In a few seasons, people are going to look back at the S6 Draft as the time the Yeti set the wheels in motion to start taking over the NSFL. It’s that serious. And now? We have two S7 first rounders to add even more talent next season too. The next step is signing a key free agent or two. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, Colorado is becoming a destination. We’re on the up and up, and we’re going to start competing sooner than later. I know people have questions about our Quarterback, and I’ll be the first person to say that I wasn’t a believer either. But being inside that locker room with him now, I’ll also be the first person to say that there’s nobody out there working harder to improve than Nick Pierno. He’s become a hell of a leader in the locker room, and he wants to win more than anyone in there. He’s been training harder, and getting better. This season he’s really going to open some eyes. Just you wait.”
Where else do you think the Yeti need to improve?
“Tight end, for one. I can’t really offer an opinion on other positions until I get myself under control and become dominant at my job. I really needed to come back home, here to the DR, to get my mind right. I was a mess, like I said. But even just a few days back on the island has me thinking clearly. I’m excited again. I want the season to start right now. I can’t wait to get back to Colorado for training camp. But honestly, I think we’re close. We could use another stud linebacker to pair with Ishigawa and Saint to really shore up our second line of defense. I think we could definitely use another defensive lineman to really help wreak some havoc. And honestly, having one more cornerback wouldn’t hurt. That will most likely be our focus in the next draft though, unless we sign a free agent that’s hanging out or make a trade for someone. This offseason has already been huge for us. We’re going to be meeting up and practicing together on our own. I think the rookies are coming. We’re going to be prepared.”
“I can’t possibly think of more to say. I’m just really excited about the Yeti in S6 and beyond, and our fans should be too. I let them down in my first season, and it’s not going to happen again.”
It was with that that I ended my interview with Carlito. I know that my editor had heard the whispers that he was disruptive in the locker room and was causing a rift with the team. But, after spending a few days with Crush and his family, it was clear to see that he was more focused than I’ve ever seen a player be. He’s not a bust, and I don’t think he’ll ever be considered one. He loves the Yeti, and he genuinely seems to want to be a part of the slow build to the eventual Ultimus championship with Colorado. He didn’t have the best year for a rookie, but last season feels more like it was an anomaly than what will become the norm. Look for not only Crush to rebound from last season, but for the entire Yeti team to get better.
It’s funny, with all of the other good stories going on in Denver sports right now, the last thing I wanted to do was write another piece about the bad football team. But it turns out that this story might have been the best one we have going for us all along. (2814)