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Thomas Dunne Books
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 9781466856417304 Pages
After only his second year with the New York Giants, T. J. Brookman has become the best tight end in professional football. His stats are nothing short of amazing---and what's even more amazing is that he was only a sixth-round pick in the first place. With one season remaining on his rookie contract, his agent, Barry Sturtz, wants to renegotiate and get a more lucrative deal---a common practice among players who have exceeded expectations.
But the Giants refuse. They want Brookman to play through his last year, then they'll talk about a new contract. Sturtz, however, doesn't trust them. He wants the deal now—and if he doesn't get it, he's going to instruct T.J. to boycott the team's upcoming training camp. Head coach Alan Gray doesn't flinch at the threat—if T.J. doesn't show, he says, they'll simply bench him. Sturtz thinks it's a bluff---the Giants have had problems with offensive production, and T.J. is their only bright spot. But Gray insists he's serious.
No one is more stunned by this development than offensive coordinator Dale Greenwood. Having struggled in polite subordination under Gray's megalomaniacal leadership, the talented Greenwood is concerned that he will now lose his most productive receiver. He suspects Gray's true motivation is that he simply doesn't want to spend the money on a tight end---Gray is a defensive-minded coach with little interest in the offensive side of the ball.
What Gray really wants is for everything to stay just the way it is. And to create the necessary leverage, he orders Greenwood to bring in three "camp bodies"---decoys, essentially---to compete for T.J.'s job. Greenwood has no choice but to comply, and he assembles a trio of unsigned players from the bottomless pool of league wannabes.
What no one anticipates, however, is that these three recruits have more drive and talent than anyone expected. Delighted, Gray believes Sturtz will soon be at his mercy. But neither Sturtz nor any the three hopefuls are willing to be a part of Alan Gray's plan. Many variables are in play here, both on and off the field. And as any student of the game knows, there are more losers than winners on the last day of preseason---a day known as the Cut.
Barry Sturtz finally ran out of patience.
"T. J.'s numbers for the last two years have been incredible," he said for the third time. "No one here can debate that. Last year alone—eighty-seven receptions for eleven hundred...