"I'm not here," Kurt Warner shouted down the stairs.
"Yes, you are," yelled back Brenda from the front door.
Kurt sighed. "Let them in."
The three Cardinals shuffled in meekly after Brenda Warner offered to park Darnell Dockett's Segway in the backyard. They settled into the family room and stared into space. Larry Fitzgerald tapped his fingers together, wiggled his foot, and whistled.
Kurt Warner slid slowly down the stairs and ambled into the room. "Can I get you anything?" The men shook their heads.
"I know why you're here. You saw Brett Favre's Three Begging Men act and thought it would work on me. But I'm retired. I even tweeted about it last night."
"I know, but ..." Larry started.
"Tweeted about it."
"Yes, but ..."
"TWEETED about it."
Larry slumped into the easy chair and took on a thousand-yard stare. He sighed.
Darnell Dockett bellowed, "You saw Matt last night. He surrounded our guys with passes without hitting them on the hands. You can't leave us with him!"
Warner calmly shook his head. "C'mon, Darnell ... it's not like I left you with Tarvaris Jackson."
All four men shuddered.
"Okay, but it's not a lot better. I mean, people are taking Derek Anderson seriously as an NFL player. The guy that made Brady Quinn look like an NFL player for 15 minutes."
The third man piped in. "Did you hear what Matt said to Michele Tafoya? 'People can write or say anything they want'? How about 'Matt Leinart needs to play with a sense of urgency'? That's what Jaws said last night before the game. Before it! As in, 'It would be nice if Matt Leinart noticed he was employed by the National Football League and provided some level of effort approaching that honor.'"
Kurt stared at him. "Jay Feely, what are you even doing here? We never played together."
"I heard your wife might serve spinach and artichoke dip. I love that stuff."
Kurt rolled his eyes, briefly stunning himself. Stumbling briefly, he insisted, "Look, I appreciate it, guys. I just can't, though. I love retired life. And besides ... Alan Faneca. Alan Faneca! I don't want to hand my life over to a man that takes advantage of the senior citizen discount at IHOP."
Jay exclaimed, "Hey now! There's no need to disparage Alan."
"No, really. Brenda and I see him there on Tuesdays."
Kurt smiled curtly. "Now I'm sure you guys will be just fine without me. If you'll just leave Brenda and me t ... hey, where's Darnell?"
Larry pointed down the hall without changing his faraway stare. "He went towards your bathroom with a bag of camera equipment."
Kurt buried his head in his hands and staggered himself again. Recovering, he leaned against the piano and shouted, "Brenda, honey, Darnell's filming himself in the shower. Would you please chase him out with the broom again?"
"On it, dear."
"Now I really appreciate this, guys. I loved playing with you ... well, you, Larry. But I'm happy to sit at home and play canasta with the Fanecas on Wednesdays."
Larry focused his steely gaze on Kurt and stood slowly from the chair. "I didn't want to do this, Kurt. I really didn't."
"Kurt ... did you have your tomato juice this morning?"
"Like I do every morning."
Larry reached into his dreadlocks and pulled out a small can to show Kurt. "Did you know you could have enjoyed eight vegetable juices and got two servings of vegetables in the same glass all for a mere 50 calories?"
Kurt's face sunk. "My goodness! Why, I could've had a V- ..." Kurt hit the floor hard, unconscious. Larry scooped him up over his right shoulder. "Grab the door, Jay, and open the trunk of the car."
"Jeez! How did you know that would work?"
"He never remembers the trick. Hell, we used it six times to keep him from retiring last season. Now get the door for me before Darnell reaches the conditioner step." A voice bellowed from down the hall, "No, I don't want to see your fresh meat! Out of the shower!"
Jay nodded. "Okay, just a sec ... I want to see if there's spinach and artichoke dip in the fridge."