“Okay, thanks for calling, officer.”
Shamarko stared at the wall in disbelief. His brother had died. The officer had called and said he committed suicide. Shamarko Thomas, an amazing safety for the Pittsburgh Steelers,was sitting in the middle of his kitchen. Thinking. His eyes started to water and in seconds he was bawling. The thought that he would never be able to see his brother’s face again scared him more than anything. Shamarko and his brother, Markus, did everything together. They played outside daily together with their neighborhood friends until dusk. The whole neighborhood would always play quick games of tackle football with all with the car lights shining on the small field of grass. They were both huge Seattle Seahawks fans until Shamarko got drafted by the Steelers. Shamarko, still puzzled by all of the recent chaos, couldn’t figure out why his brother would ever commit suicide. Markus, 24, was married with two kids who adored him. The big question for him now was how could he possibly play in the playoffs for his team. He had a game this Saturday in the divisional playoffs. They would be playing the Cincinnati Bengals. Before the game Shamarko couldn’t focus on the upcoming game, just depressed from his brother’s passing. His mind is racing trying to concentrate on his job and responsibilities. He walks out of the tunnel with 65,050 fans on their feet cheering for him, solely him since he was their star defender. Shamarko usually makes an exciting entry but today, he just walks out calmly, looking at the sky hoping his brother is looking down on him. The game kicks off and the Steelers get off to a great start. They never look back and they win the game in a close last second effort. Shamarko intercepted a last second hail mary which would have won the game for the Bengals. After that specific play, he realized he could channel his anger and troubles into fuel. He’s ecstatic and celebrating with his teammates but then it kicks in that his brother couldn’t see him make his great game winning play. He then just calms down, gets his stuff and leaves the stadium. Shamarko just relaxed and thought of happy thoughts with Markus. Before he knew it the championship game was tomorrow against the Broncos. He made sure to take his anger into aggression and motivation so he could have a great game which is what Markus would’ve wanted for him. Again, he walked out of the tunnel, no emotion, and looked up into the stands and imagined his brother cheering, on his feet, crazier than anyone. Right off the bat, Shamarko was making plays. He delivered a bone jarring hit to Demaryius Thomas, which caused a fumble and one of his teammates picked it up for a Steelers touchdown. Then, he deflected a key third down bomb which made them punt it back to the Steelers. The 4th quarter starts and while Shamarko is walking onto the field, for some reason, all of a sudden he can’t concentrate and simply has an emotional breakdown. He starts crying, and walks off the field. His coach and teammates are asking him questions about what’s going on, but he doesn’t respond and just walks out of the stadium and leaves. He gets home, puts his stuff down, and just buries his head and just thinks about how he will move forward from this tragedy. While driving to dinner one night about a week after the game….he was wondering if he should play in the Super Bowl since the Steelers beat the Broncos. They would be playing the Chicago Bears. How would his team, his fans, react to him after absolutely bailing on them in the most important game of their year. He decided to play, but he was also thinking of another road to go, and eliminate all his problems. He comes back home and falls asleep. Shamarko woke up, and drove to the stadium, second guessing his decision to play. He slowly creeps into the locker room feeling unwanted and lost. The confused looks painted on all of the players faces reminds him of when a new student walks into a school.
“ You aren’t playing today are you?” asked the veteran corner Ike Taylor.
“ Yeah, I am, if that’s okay with all of you.”
“ Why did you think you could walk out on us like that in the most important game of our year so far?”
“ I don’t know, and I am truly sorry about that. It’ll never happen again, I promise.”
” Okay fine, but you better play like it’s the last game of your life.”
Shamarko wondered if today really would be the last game of his life. After the captain, Lawrence Timmons, got the team fired up, they came roaring out of the tunnel like a pack of stampeding elephants. As they’re warming up, Shamarko tells the coach he needs to go to the bathroom really quick in the locker room. He enters the locker room, goes to the coaches desk, gets paper, and starts writing….a suicide note.