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Chapter 6: The family plot

The next morning, I pulled a few old strings in the Green Bay Police Department but my sources had little to add to the public reports.

The season had arrived at Lambeau as expected, hung around the usual places for a while, but suddenly went down in a heap early in the evening. There was mud and cleat marks everywhere, too much for forensics to unravel. But basically, the season had been run over where it was standing. Probably didn’t feel a thing with so much damage already done. But the final hit had been very clean and clinical, which led me back to the start. Something that slick just screamed a professional hit.

And a cruel hit at that. Someone wanted that season to die hard.

I arrived back in Seattle the next afternoon. Mr Allen’s limousine was waiting to take me to Seahawk Stadium, where the season’s family was waiting.

They were a miserable-looking lot. Running backs and guards, linemen and wide receivers, all the losers of humanity tipped into uniforms and called a team. Hass was there, looking edgy, and many of the others looked like they hadn’t slept for a month. It wasn’t a pretty sight.

A man calling himself Holmgren stood up, and the room hushed. Everyone seemed scared of him, especially Hass, but he spoke gently enough given the circumstances.

“Gentlemen,” he said. “I’ve brought you to somewhere you’ve never been before so that we can talk to this (slight, contemptuous, pause) gentleman about our recent loss. I want you all to understand that we should speak freely, but let us not forget that we do not want our season tainted by any unnecessary (long, emphatic, pause) controversy.”

So, the big man was the boss here. It seemed that not even Mr Allen was willing to cross him.

I got to work, but nobody knew anything, nobody did anything, and nobody suspected anything. It was like a training session at the Chargers. Apparently 35 players had turned up on the day, but nobody was actually there at the time.

All they were willing to say was that they’d gone onto the field, checked their instructions with Hass, and gone to work. I could see the color draining from Hass’ face, which was impressive considering that he was already white as a sheet.

I knew I was on dead ground. Everyone was going to be a good soldier and line up neatly for the party line. It wasn’t even worth trying to yell at them — the fix was well and truly in.

Just as I was packing up, Holmgren tapped me gently on the shoulder. “Could you spare me a moment in my office?” he asked politely.