Unforgiven

Would-be draftee Tony Washington’s NFL future is being derailed by his sad past.

  1. Located in a warehouse outside Dallas, the windowless Metroflex Gym is not air-conditioned, an aesthetic choice that edits the clientele to a select group of cops, bikers, bodybuilders and other masochists who thrive on the deprivation that exercising in unfiltered 110-degree heat produces. Inside on this blazing midsummer day, patrons are greeted by a 10-foot wooden cross and the rib-rattling sounds of speed metal or hardcore rap. The walls are plastered with bodybuilding glossies, pictures of champions past and present, including local hero and former Mr. Olympia Ronnie Coleman. Above the photos, artwork depicts the end times—which, in the given environment, are easy to imagine.

    Below the cross, NFL hopeful Tony Washington is pumping out a set of curls. At 6-foot-7 and 310 pounds, the 24-year-old offensive lineman is easily the biggest man in a room filled with big men. His shoulders are the size of canned hams; his thighs cement-solid. As he pauses to swig water laced with protein powder, a 4-year-old girl toddles over and stops at his feet.

    "My mama is over there," she shouts, pointing a chocolate-covered finger toward the rear of the gym.

    Washington smiles, gives her a gentle high-five. "You gonna work out too?" he asks, crouching to meet the girl eye-to-eye. She shakes her head.

    "Is that chocolate bar for me?" he teases.

    "No!"

    Washington laughs, then nods to the mother, who gives him a thumbs-up. "Looking good, Tony!" she yells over the music.

    He returns to his r...

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