The defense was showing blitz. The halfback flanking quarterback Mark Bilson moved out to the left slot, emptying the backfield. Bilson took the snap, anticipating a blitz that never came, causing him to throw a pass that would be intercepted by the outside linebacker. Just then, everything froze. The ball then quickly flew out of the linebacker’s hands and back towards the right arm of Bilson. The defense moved backwards, returning onsides to show the same blitz, as the halfback moved from the slot into the backfield.
Bilson then took the snap again and threw an interception to the same linebacker… Watching these images unfold on his holoscreen was Hunter Danielson, head coach of the New Triton Planetary Football Team. Though his clock showed 4 AM, the coach was there, wide awake, watching what was actually same play again and again. He’d hit play on his remote, see Bilson repeatedly throw the same interception that ultimately cost his team that game, and then rewind to watch it again, always looking at a different angle, trying to find something new to give his team an edge.
Rising up the football coaching latter, sleepless nights were not exactly something new for the 36-year-old Danielson. However, there was something different about this one, as there was a palpable level of anxiety emanating from his fourth story hotel room.
Seemingly everything in the room, from furniture to garbage to stray articles of clothing, was arranged to depict different formations. On one corner of the floor, for example, two groups of eleven socks were matched up against each other, with one showing 3-3-5 defense and the other lined up in a 5-receiver formation. On top of a nearby table, toenail clippings were aligned to show the in vogue 2-4-5 defense, with a piece of lint representing the eleventh man.
Was it eccentric? Undeniably so, and Danielson would readily admit this. But such was the way the young coach’s mind worked, always thinking about football, never ceasing to formulate new ways to exploit defenses. And on this night in particular, he could not risk waiting for his holopad to load up to record a given epiphany.
After all, it was the eve of heavily anticipated Galaxy Bowl Finals, arguably the most popular sporting event in the known universe. Even though Danielson knew had done everything he could to prepare his team, he feared it would not be enough.
The repetitive monotony continued until Danielson fell asleep, spending another night sleeping on a chair in his room with a remote control in his hand.