Four years ago I regularly phoned T.J. Fatinikun, curious if the Perrysburg senior had chosen to affirm his commitment to Bowling Green amid the cleansing of its coaching staff, or whether to latch on to Toledo and risk being labeled a turncoat. I soon no longer needed to call. He called me. What led Fatinikun to confiding in a novice sports writer, I never asked. I simply listened, turning an ear to a confused young man who had arrived at a crossroads.
I hearkened to those conversations this week after he suffered a season-ending injury for the second straight year, bringing him to yet another impasse. A career that was on track for greatness a few years ago was derailed by a fluky torn Achilles tendon. He becomes the latest in a line of area athletes to be haunted recently by bad luck or by bad choices. (Game-changing injuries: Fatinikun, Koger, Page, Wormley. Undrafted: Koger, Page, Buford. Arrested: Gambrell, Mewhort. Suspended: Wells. Ineligible: Webb. Shot: Ballard.)
Fatinikun vows we haven't seen the last of his striking fear in opposing quarterbacks, but many months will pass before he is able to prove it. I offered my ear to him again this week, to which he responded, "I don't even know what to say." Sadly, there was not much to discuss.
For all things Toledo sports, follow Ryan's blog, Rocket Docket.