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Player Diary Jason Whittle
This has been one of the toughest times of my life. We got home so late from Denver that I didn't even get into bed until about 7:15 in the morning. About two hours later, my wife, Natalie, woke me up and she was pretty upset. She told me that two planes had hit the World Trade Center, so we turned on the TV and watched with our little girl, Claire, who's only three months old. Like the rest of the country, we just sat there and watched in disbelief.
At the time, we didn't think we knew anyone that was directly affected. I didn't find out until later that night that my best friend's older bother, Randy, who I knew very well, was injured and probably wasn't going to make it. My best buddy, Greg Drake, called me and left a message telling me to call him as soon as I got in.
The offensive linemen had gone over to Dusty Zeigler's that night for a barbecue. It was supposed to be a celebration, but it certainly wasn't with us losing to Denver and then the World Trade Center happenings. We just kind of sat around and watched the TV.
When I got back around 10 at night, I called Greg and he told me what had happened. He asked me to go see Randy in Bellevue Hospital because I was the closest family he had. Randy worked as an engineer in the World Trade Center for three weeks a month. All his family was back in Missouri. No one thought that he'd even make it through the night. I told Greg that I'd try but that it probably wasn't going to be easy.
After talking to about 15-20 policeman trying to finagle my way in, I finally found someone who took me over there. I was very appreciative. Everyone was very sympathetic, but still couldn't help me. I actually lied about my situation and said it was my brother-in-law. I just knew if I said it was a friend that no one would help.
I took the policeman's card, and I'm going to send him a letter and give him tickets to a game. He doesn't even know that I was a Giant. I told a few people in a desperate plea, but not the man who helped me.
As of Thursday, Randy is still hanging on, but he's basically brain-dead and they don't expect him to last much longer. He has brain stem function, but very little else. The crazy thing is that after the first plane hit, he called home and told everyone that he was all right. I don't know if he was evacuated from his building or if he just went outside.
He was working in one of the buildings right by the towers and when the second plane hit, he got hit with debris. Something hit him in the head and he had major brain trauma; his brain was really swollen. It's not good at all. They're just kind of praying that God will take him because they don't want to keep him alive that way. Most of his family got to come see him, so that was one good thing.
I'm still very angry. You go through a whole bunch of emotions. First, you're in disbelief, then you're upset, and then you're sad, kind of mourning. Then I got mad. You bounce back and forth between being mad and upset. The only thing you can do is pray for him and for everyone. It felt good to go down and talk to the policemen and the firemen. It's sad to see all that, but at the same time, it's great to be able to go down there and give them an encouraging word. You feel so helpless, so that's really all you can do.
With all that going on, it seems like forever since I even thought about that Denver game. That was a tough game for me, personally, and the team. I definitely didn't have a good game snapping the ball. During warm-ups, everything felt good. All my snaps felt good, both on punts and field goals. Things felt pretty smooth during the game as well, but I had a couple high snaps on field goals during the game. I don't know if I started to overcompensate or what, but on the last one, it was a low snap. I may have been trying to make up for the previous snaps, which were high. I just have to make sure that I stay in a regular rhythm.
Snapping is really just a rhythm. You have to be confident, and just go out there and do it. I think I was looking at the whole picture, instead of just playing catch with the holder. You can't be thinking about anything else. You can't think about blocking, the kicker or anything. All you have to do is block everything else out of your mind and just look at the holder's hands, and snap it right there. It really is a rhythm. Like other things, once you get into a zone, you feel like you can't miss. Sometimes you mess yourself up, because you're trying to take a little off the shorter snaps.
On punts, you just fire the ball back there as fast as you can. On the shorter snaps, you can't send it back with all your might or the holder will have a tough time handling it. The short ones can't be the same speed as a punt, and sometimes that throws you off. We've been working with different holders here, both Rodney Williams and now Jason Garrett. That's something that can't even enter into my mind. It doesn't matter who's back there. It could be anyone. You just have to get the ball back there. We've worked on it a lot in practice, definitely more than usual.
Before this year, we'd only do special teams at certain times. Now we'll work on it during seven-on-seven in the middle of practice. It's always tough to have a bad game, like I did. You can have 25 great snaps in a row, but once you screw one up, that's all you're thinking about. When you're playing offensive line, you're going to make mistakes, and the other guy you're going against gets paid too. But when you're deep-snapping, it's just you. You either succeed or fail on your own. You have to be perfect every time. But it's tough because when you have a bad one, you can't let it affect you and you have to put it out of your mind. That's my job and what I have to do. It's just like a quarterback. If he throws an interception, he still has to come out and make the next play.
Snapping is really just like playing offensive line; you're only noticed when you make a mistake. As a backup lineman, you always have to be ready. It's tough because you're a starter in college, and now I'm just snapping. But I have to constantly know exactly what I'm doing because there can't be a letdown at any position. At any moment, Dusty, Glenn or Stoney could go down. I feel very comfortable going into any of those positions. I feel like I know what I'm doing and that I can do it. I really believe that I can step in and be a starter. I don't doubt my ability at all.