The 3 a.m. wake-up call in a hotel outside of Champaign, Illinois, was unexpected. This was in 2002, back when I was playing for the Green Bay Packers and long before Kyrie Irving's unfortunate run-in with bed bugs became national news. We were on a road trip to play the Chicago Bears, my hometown team growing up. Maybe I was a little nervous or over-excited or had too many Gatorades the night before. Whatever. That didn't matter at the time, because I had a new issue to deal with leading up to the Monday Night Football kickoff.
My sheets? Soaked. The shorts I was sleeping in? Drenched. The comforter? The same. I was 8 years old all over again, waking up in my own pee. I had wet the bed.
My roommate on the road, Aaron Kampman, was oblivious to the situation and sound asleep across the room. With the Bears playing that season at the University of Illinois because of the renovations to Soldier Field, we weren't staying at the Ritz, the Westin or one of those other fancy hotels in Chicago. Nope. We were at this tiny place with cornfields out the backdoor.
But I still had to deal with this bed-wetting thing. Call for help? Nah. That was too embarrassing. And I didn't want to create a scene in the hallway. Flip the mattress over and gut it out for the rest of the night? Gross. Sleep on the floor? That would be a dead giveaway to Kamp, and I'd be busted in the morning.
So, like any rational pro football player, I undressed, grabbed a towel to wear and wrapped up my bedding. Quietly exiting the room, I crept down the hallway and found the stairs that led to the laundry.
My plan? Drop off the soaked bedding and pick up some new digs for the night. I could take a quick shower, make my bed and this thing would fade away. No one would know. But the laundry wasn't open at 3 a.m., and there was no one there to save me.
Now I was starting to panic a little bit. What's my next move? Where do I go from here? How do I get rid of these sheets?
The dumpster, that's it. Yeah, that would work. I could duck outside, throw this stuff in the trash and get back to the room. Maybe I could make a new bed with fresh towels? Maybe. OK. I'm doing it.
It's cold outside at 3 a.m. when you're wearing just a towel and still kind of wet from pee. But I managed, walking with cautious steps. I didn't need to slice up my foot on beer-bottle shards with a game that night. I made it to the dumpster and tossed out the sheets.
Problem solved, right? Sure, until I realized there was no handle on the outside of that backdoor to the hotel. No doorbell to ring. No possible way to get in. I pushed, I shoved, I kicked. Nothing.
"It's cold outside at 3 a.m. when you're wearing just a towel and still kind of wet from the pee. But I managed, walking with cautious steps. I didn't need to slice up my foot on beer-bottle shards with a game that night."
I was locked out, in a towel and covered in pee. Dang.
With no way in from the back of the hotel, I had to come clean and go in the front door. So, I walked around the front of the hotel, trying to stay out of sight from anyone driving along the road or coming in early to work at the joint.
Now, walking into a hotel at 3 a.m. is probably strange in these parts. But walking in with just a towel on? Man, that's ridiculous. And it got even more ridiculous when the little, old lady working at the front desk asked for proof I was actually staying at the hotel.
Room key? No. Driver's license? I wish. In my panic-stricken state, all I grabbed was this towel. But I did play for the Green Bay Packers. That's what I told her.
She didn't buy it.
And, really, I don't blame her. Here I am, half naked, shaved head, smelling like pee and walking in off the street. Probably not the type of dude you want lurking around the front of the hotel that early in the morning.
Did I get back to my room? Yeah, eventually. After I called team security, the lady at the front desk finally budged. I took a shower, flipped the mattress, used the rest of the towels as my bedding and I went to sleep.
The game? The reason I was in Champaign? I played well. Got a cheap pass interference call in the end zone, but we whipped the Bears that night.
At the time, I didn't tell any players on the team about the bed-wetting. Not even Kampman who, like any person, asked why the heck I was sleeping on towels that morning.
Don't worry about it.