From the look on Chris Samuels' widescreen face and from the strange sounds coming from the subwoofer in his chest, he isn't quite sure what he's getting into - or, in the case of the Connelly Interceptor, he doesn't know what he's getting onto. He has carefully lowered his dense 6-foot-5-inch, 317-pound body atop the big rubber toy, and already there are signs he's overmatched. He has not eaten well this morning - a bagel and a couple of sips of Gatorade. He did not sleep well last night - a train passed his room at 3 a.m., followed by a wake-up call two hours later. Now he looks confused. His normally rhythmic laughter is hitched. For the five-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle of the Washington Redskins, this was supposed to be an off-day. It is only when Samuels reaches for the Interceptor's handles and nearly swipes his girlfriend, Monique (Hazel) Cox, off the tube in the process, that Samuels realizes he better be on today.
As one of the most-dominating offensive linemen in all of football, the 30-year-old Samuels gets paid good money to push other huge men around. During his playing days at the University of Alabama, he went two years without allowing a defender to lay a finger on his quarterback - unheard of. So you can only imagine how he must feel to be strewn across the water, facedown no less, on a glorified air mattress. His self-preservation instinct is taking over. Next to him, or behind him, or underneath him, somewhere, his petite girlfriend is trying to find just a sliver of space on the Interceptor's back so she can attempt to save herself.
"That's unsportsmanlike conduct, dude," someone says quietly from inside the Centurion. Were Samuels to grab an opposing lineman the way he's clutching the Interceptor he'd also be penalized for holding. Maybe worse.
And this is just the beginning.
I'm not sure that tube there's big enough for a 330-pound man," he says, taking a blow on the swim platform after what will prove to be a warm-up ride.
"Wait," says a boat passenger. "Your bio says you weigh 317."
"That's my playing weight. I need to work some to get it back down."
Unbeknownst to him, he's come to the right place. The Sevylor Triple X stands across from him. The tube looks more like an extra-small next to Samuels, who is wearing an XXXXL life vest around his torso. "Let's do it," he says, letting out a confident baritone chuckle.
Then he pins the Triple X to the water with arms the size of the Dakotas and rides.