Mother Lode, WeHo. 2:47 am, December 26th, 2017
A single patron enters the bar, immediately swiveling his head in all directions to ascertain the conditions of his surroundings, the young man immediately notices two things. First, the bar is decked out in festive — though slightly different than his own tastes — holiday decor. Second, there are only a few patrons enjoying drinks but none of them seem to notice him. He exhales a sigh of relief and approaches the bar.
Josh Rosen: Oh thank goodness you all are open.
Margaret Marley: Doll, this is a lifestyle bar. Many of us ain’t had loving homes to go home to during the holidays for decades — so we congregate and support one-another here. Door’s always open and a listening ear is always available. Why don’t you tell me two things: what ya want to drink and, more importantly, why you look so pale you’d think you saw a ghost?
Rosen: Oh uh….Coors please. I love that stuff. Been drinking it for years.
Marley [pops cap off a banquet steinie bottle and holds it behind the bar, staring at Rosen]: …
Rosen: You know, I heard they recently decided to add more hops to it.
Marley: This one’s on the house, champ.
Rosen: Oh shhhii — you know who I am? Look, I know I’m not supposed to be here but I need to take the edge off. Cactus Bowl game is tomorrow night and I just need to be out of my dorm for the night.
Marley: Oh yeah?
Rosen: I know it sounds crazy but I just couldn’t sleep. I just HAD to come down here. And don’t ask me why because I didn’t even know this place existed. I just…I just knew.
Marley: Well drag night is usually Fridays. That’s how you college boys usually dip in your toes though I’d never —
Rosen: Well uh, hey uh, I know I don’t look like the lady slayer but it doesn’t mean I swing —
Marley: Oh! I know! While you’re here! Hold on. I gotta head to the back.
Marget Marley exits to the backroom and Rosen takes a collegiate swig of his beer. There is a flicker and the lights outside of his section of the bar dim. A chain is heard dragging in the darkness approaching him. A ghostly voice creeps at Rosen over the sounds of the approaching chains.
Ghostly Voice: Delicious. Look at you. Big arm, tall, and oh so smart.
Rosen: Uhhhh, who are you? What’s going on here? Show yourself!
Rod Marinelli: Pardon me for a sec. Mr Jones has me wear these chains when we go out on scouting visits now. Guess the Supreme Court ruled that it’s illegal to just keep black men in chains so now he’s got us all wearing them until they pack the courts enough to fix it back to just the coloreds.
Rosen: Wait – aren’t you the DC for Cowboys? Man, I’d love to end up behind that line. You know, Dak has really been exposed without Zeke and if you’re out looking for quarterback — wait, but why are you in Lions gear?
Marinelli: Listen to me Josh. I come to you in this form so that you may recognize me as The Ghost of 0-16 Past! You were but one years old and I navigated the Lions to a winless season. Granted, if I’d have had you in Week 6 when we lost 10-12 against Minnesota, I probably could have gone 1-15 and avoided this eternal curse. But we did not have you. We had Dan Orlovsky running out of the back of the end zone, accounting for the two point difference.
Rosen: But what does this have to do with me? I’ve made it clear that I don’t want to go to a loser. I’ll stay in school another year if I must.
Marinelli: Oh, young man, if you only understood. The NFL is a league of parody, not of fate. Look at what young Garoppolo is doing in San Francisco. Or Nick Foles in Philadelphia. It’s not about finding the right situation for you; it’s about the right opportunity. Beware the messages of pundits, for they have no knowledge but that which tells them stupidity gets ratings.
The lights dim all the way down, buoy, then return to normal. Marget Marley returns from the backroom and replaces his beer with an identical bottle.
Rosen: Margaret! My god! Did you see what just happened?
Margaret shrugs and again exits. The flicker returns and the lights outside of his section of the bar dim. This time a spotlight appears on the figure sitting at a booth along the wall behind Rosen.
Sashi Brown: Finally, to see The Great Chosen Rosen in the flesh. I must say, your numbers are quite impressive. Of course, as Hue Jackson would say, it’s your immeasurables that will make you a great player. I think he tended to say things like that just to mess with DePodesta though. Either way, I think all NFL players can learn a thing or two.
Rosen: No offense, sir, but you were just fired for building a roster that doesn’t appear to be capable of winning a game. What advice might you have for me?
Brown: Joshua Ballinger Lippincott Rosen, you dare speak with such disrespect to the Ghost of 0-16 Present? You threaten to avoid coming to the NFL in 2018 because you hold some conviction that a squad which is loaded with a stud defense, quality backs, and a fan base that YEARNS for a franchise quarterback to worship, isn’t the right fit?
Rosen: Nothing has been the right fit for the Browns yet. I believe I am being prudent.
Brown: Small tweaks, Josh. Minor changes broadcast huge results. Have you watched Sports Center yet tonight?
Brown waves his hand and the wood paneled box television above the bar illuminates.
Rosen: Well no. I’ve been busy preparing for the Cactus Bowl. I want a strong showing against Kansas State.
Brown: Fuck Kansas State, Joshua! Pull your head out of your college world and look at the millionaire lifestyles being enjoyed by teams on the turnaround. Look at the Rams players celebrating their division lead this Christmas. If Coach McVay has his way, UCLA and USC won’t be the biggest teams in town when the Bruins suit up for their 2018 campaign.
Rosen: Yeah but they have a quarterback.
Brown: Or look at the suffering of the flailing Houston Texans, a team that is night and day wth Deshaun Watson under center. It was a sad Christmas with Watson on the sideline, indeed. You know why the Eagles line all received custom shotguns and cowboy boots for Christmas the last two years? Because Carson Wentz didn’t balk at going to a team that gave up a haul of picks to get a quarterback. You know why it’s a jolly Christmas in Seattle for a Seahawks team with a subpar roster but solid postseason hopes? They have a quarterback.
Rosen: Who doesn’t have sex.
Brown: Who has never had sex.
Rosen: Well good for those teams. But I need to still look out for my best interests. For my career. I’ve always gotta focus on taking care of number one.
Brown: Fair enough, Josh. But I’ve seen the scouting files. What makes you think the Browns even want you?
Before Rosen can answer, the lights again dim. Rosen sits in the darkness for an extended period when all the televisions flash on, inundating Rosen with identical game broadcasts.
Erin Andrews: And as we wrap up this Week 17 game of the 2018 season, one has to look back and wonder just how Josh Rosen will recover from this disastrous rookie campaign. Even before this blowout loss to the AFC-leading Cleveland Browns, Rosen held regular season records for sacks, interceptions, and fumbles. Clinging to a QB Rating of 32.4, Rosen made the poor decision of rolling out wide on a 2nd and 23 play where Vontaze Burfict blitzed and, from my spot on the sideline, it reminded me of the injury RG3 took his rookie year.
Rosen: Wait – 2018?
Andrews: As The Ghost of 0-16 Future, I sat down with Giants GM Louis Riddick and asked him about Rosen’s season. His response was blunt: “We got no receivers, we can’t run the ball, the wind in here makes passing impossible, our defenders have just some fingers, and, frankly, taking Rosen was ownership’s choice. I think we’ve locked up our backup for the next few seasons though.”
Rosen: Backup? What’s she talking about?
Andrews: One has to question the judgement of Josh Rosen to have seen the young talent on this Browns roster and not want to be a part of their accelerated and structured rebuild. In fact, not only did he reject the Cleveland rebuild, he opted to dive into the crumbling dilapidated Treason Tower that is the New York Giants. Now, it’s probably too early to ask if Rosen will be a bigger bust than Jamarcus Russell but, as someone you’ve seen nude through a peephole camera, I’m confident that Rosen’s career as a starter is effectively over.
Rosen: Yeah, that video is hot. I’m a real voyeur.
The televisions click off and the bar fades back in from darkness. It is exactly as it was when Rosen entered. Margaret Marley returns from the backroom carrying a Bruins football schedule poster and a Sharpie.
Marley: Real quick, would you mind? It’s for the boss’s place, won’t go up in the bar or anything. He’s just a big fan.
Rosen takes the marker and thoughtlessly scribbles his signature across the sheet. He checks back up at the dead television screen.
Rosen: Thank you, ma’am. But I think I need to take off now.
Marley: Right. Big game tomorrow. You’re looking even paler than before now. Maybe chicken soup while you study your game tape?
Rosen: Maybe some chicken soup while I study a Rock n Roll Hall of Fame pamphlet, Margaret. Thanks for everything.
Marley: Thanks for the signature. And good luck at your bowl game. We’ll be rooting for you.
Rosen: I appreciate that. See you Friday.