Man with a Plan: The Life, Death, and Resurrection of a Football Player’s Dream

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Imagine you’re a nineteen year old football player spending a year at
Hargrave Military Academy before heading on to college. Your rural high school
was a single-A entity that got little to no attention, even in its own home
state of Virginia. Your fellow graduates, for the most part, are still hanging
around the hometown with no idea what they want to do with their lives. Some
will slip into cabs of farm equipment, and others will bounce around between
local businesses cashiering or stocking shelves, never leaving the county.

But you have a plan. You’ve had one since Pop Warner football when other kids
were either a step slower, or couldn’t pull you to the ground once they caught
you. On Saturdays of your pre-teen youth, you’d play Little League baseball
games, then beg your dad to drive you home immediately afterward so you could
watch college football while Keith Jackson spouted stats and Brent Musburger
announced touchdowns while they were still ten yards outside the endzone. Once
the afternoon game wrapped up, you’d run outside to mimic the latest plays by
Barry Sanders, Alonzo Highsmith, Rocket Ismail, and Kordell Stewart. Mimicry
soon morphed into mastery, and then you were the one putting on a show,
compiling highlight-reel footage for others to gawk at.

It is the fall of 1996, and this is what life is like for Wayne Briggs. He is
a freight train of a running back who can already bench 400 pounds. During his
senior year of high school, he not only plowed through rivals for over 2,300
yards and 40 touchdowns, he also played defense, amassing more than 50 tackles
and five sacks. On the recruiting trail, he is a wanted man. Letters from
college coaches stack up on his dining room table and his telephone rings most
nights that regulations allow.

Imagine what that must feel like, the endless reel of possibilities spooling
out before you. You can