So my armpit is being squeezed between my masseur’s fingers, like acne on a teenager, when I notice something more than an electric pain sprinting up my body and looking for an exit. I notice this soft, soothing voice in my ear…

I am lying on a table with white sheets, in a small room with Japanese art, in the Acupuncture Massage College in Miami. It sits above a Blockbuster video store. Its rooms are busy with students studying massage…

He’s working on my chest now. He leans into the massage, head close, to listen to my body speak. Well, cry. Because that’s what it’s doing right now…

Is this where I say that my clothes are on during this 30-minute massage? Because I know what you’re thinking. It’s what I was thinking, like George Costanza in a Seinfeld episode, from the time Williams agreed to perform the massage until the time he was leaving the room to give me some privacy to prepare…

So don’t get any idea, especially in this awkward collision of his two worlds: Eastern healing and testosterone heavy. Williams knows. He won’t be offering teammates a massage, even if it might help, because, “I don’t think they’d be open to a man touching a man…”

“When I started to sense I wouldn’t play football forever, it was kind of scary to think of yourself as diminished in that way,” he said. “Not that you don’t always know you’re not going to play forever. But at some point you understand that time is coming fast…

To do so, he needs the undergraduate degree he didn’t complete at Texas. So he enrolled at Nova Southeastern and has taken classes. Last season, for instance, he took an algebra and English course, even writing an essay on a subject he knows: Obedience…

Williams even went to a four-day symposium on cranial sacral with two Toronto trainers. Somewhere in there it hit how this would flow in his holistic hopes. Last season, he began looking around for a massage school. He found one that could fast-track the teachings in Portugal, but that would entail missing some off-season workouts. He saw others that likewise wouldn’t fit his schedule…

He was. And still is. But Ricky, he says, is “tainted,” because of the name-tag baggage that comes with the NFL suspensions. And he’s always felt Ricky was a kid’s name. So in certain circles he’s Errick…

He’s been attending classes, ever since, for a while going to night school after going to a Nova class and Dolphin workouts during the day. He appreciates the fellow students, who range from 18 to the mid-50s…

The other reason: After what he does to your armpit, getting squeezed by a couple of linebackers won’t hurt as much.

The Miami Herald, Miami, Florida, July 16, 2009
http://www.miamiherald.com/598/story/1143977-p2.html

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