AMERICAN FOOTBALL: If Jordan Can Make Two Comebacks I Can Make One at 31; CLAYMORES ACE COUPER JUST CAN'T CALL IT A DAY
Byline: GORDON WADDELL
SCOTT COUPER went through agony TWICE to have the legend of the man who inspired him tattooed on his back.
Now he's set to go through the mill again by walking in the shadow of his hero along the comeback trail.
The Scottish Claymores wide receiver retired from American football 20 months ago, leaving Hampden with tears in his eyes as 15,000 people chanted his name.
But like basketball-playing icon Michael Jordan, Couper couldn't stay away - and in a month's time he'll blow the dust from his No.81 jersey and be back on the same pitch where he caught what he thought was his last touchdown.
Not that he thinks he's even close to being in Jordan's league - well who is?
But watching one of the greatest athletes on the planet pull on his Nikes again - an event of such global magnitude even the BBC showed it live in the wee small hours - planted the seeds of doubt.
Couper admitted: "When Michael announced his return to play for the Washington Wizards he simply sent a two- word fax out to the media around the world - I'm back.
"I had a wee bit more explaining to do! A lot of things conspired to bring me to the decision it was time to come back and he was one.
"I was sitting there retired by the age of 31 and Jordan's making his second comeback at 39.
"Then there's my other all-time hero, Jerry Rice, playing in a Superbowl at 40 back in January.
"They have inspired me through everything, not just by what they do but what they represent - the ability to transcend their sport.
"I had my tattoo done two days before the first Claymores tryout I went to in 1994.
"I went for a pass and landed on my scab and it ripped it off. Jordan ended up half pink, half red and I had to go back and have the whole thing redone!
"But watching him in action again made me start wondering why I wasn't still playing when I knew I was physically capable.
"And ultimately I didn't want to reach the stage where I just couldn't do it any more and then end up regretting anything."
Glaswegian Couper is now back being knocked from pillar to post at the Claymores' training camp in Tampa as they prepare for their NFL Europe opener against Berlin Thunder at Hampden on April 6.
And despite being chained to his desk for the past 18 months in his ever- growing role as the organisation's grassroots co-ordinator, he's never been in better shape to deal with the rigours of a season he hopes climaxes with a World Bowl place in Glasgow on June 14.
Scott said: "I honestly thought I had the courage of my convictions when I retired.
"But when the guys flew to camp this time last year the whole thing just got to me.
"And during the games I became twitchy because they were playing and I was suited and booted on the sidelines. …