I was only 11 years-old in 1997, which means that unless it was Charles Woodson, Brian Griese, Anthony Thomas, or Tai Streets, all I knew was vaguely what role a player had, or a few notable achievements. For example, Marcus Ray was the guy who I never really heard of, but famously laid out David “If I’m Incapacitated When The Cops Arrive, Hide the Winstrol; My Lawyer’s On Speed Dial”
I mention this because I recently read something on Kissing Suzy Kolber about Ian Gold, written in this book “A Few Seconds of Panic”. The author, Stefan Fatsis, was a writer who spent training camp as a kicker for the Broncos, and then detailed his experiences in the book. In it were two incredible Ian Gold quotes which, after becoming more familiar with him through Google, aren’t even that surprising:
Ian Gold: “This is a business. When I’m here on this field, it is absolutely business. When I’m in the meeting rooms, it is business. Don’t hug me, don’t touch me, don’t call me your buddy, don’t tell me you love me, because I know you’ll motherfuck me as soon as I leave the room.”
Ian Gold: “The hard part for me is dealing with a lack of loyalty, dealing with people who have such a lack of integrity that it’s just sickening… You have coaches that will smile in your face and they’ll shit on you the next second.”
I find his overall paranoia and vehemence fascinating, and the use of “motherfuck” as a verb is rare but always appreciated. (Would that be more of a sensual or an aggressive fucking? If it’s your dad doing the motherfucking with the lights off just because “It’s a Saturday and all that's on are CSI re-runs”, mom could probably sleep right through it. But getting prisonfucked, or “I’m drunk and wearing a condom, so I’m not going to feel anything unless I do it like this” fucked would probably be uncomfortable. I guess this really boils down to what kind of tact Jake Plummer had.)
All of this makes the fact that he was cut by the Broncos, and still hasn’t been signed by anybody, even more disheartening. Gold is almost too small; made the Pro Bowl in 2001 mostly because he was ruthless on special teams; and once negotiated his own 27 million-dollar contract while representing himself. (“The one message it should send to other guys around the league is that we are intelligent human beings. We don't just play football. We have the intellectual capacity to negotiate contracts,” he said.) He doesn't trust agents, plays chess frequently, and he does not hesitate in saying that NFL owners are conniving, soulless moguls.
I like him because he’s an underdog who it seems has always felt a little scorned and neglected. He plays recklessly and instinctively, motivated by emotion and desire; it's like he's consumed by something more transcendent and primal than the vast intellect that he has. On the field it disappears and, as Carr once said, "his intensity is so high, he runs right through blockers." He’s also blunt, uninhibited and prone to hyperbole. He said that
Back in elementary school, when a teacher would ask her class what they did over the summer, I picture Ian giving the most vivid – possibly exaggerated – responses. Maybe sometimes he’s not as graceful as he could be, but like Mike Hart and Lloyd Carr, he’s hardly concerned with his acceptance anyway. He’s just as combative as Mike, but he’s not as easily provoked; when Gold says something, it’s on his own terms.
There are few characters as complex as him, and even fewer who are as willing to reveal it. I was reading about this impromptu interview session a few days before the game against
Gold: “We have Mr. Lloyd Carr here… Let me ask you a few questions. . . . What kind of year did Ian Gold have this year?''
Carr: “Are you interviewing for a job?''
Gold: “I'm interviewing you right now! You're messing up the interview.”
Carr: “That happens a lot”
When that happened, I was 13. Too bad all I knew then was that one was fast and the other was old.