Fire forces early trip to Illinois

Chargers rookie DB Drayton Florence reflects on the unexpected trip to Champaign, Ill. and his parents' visit.

Updated: November 5, 2003, 12:18 PM ET
By Drayton Florence | Special to ESPN.com

Editor's note: Defensive back Drayton Florence, taken in the second round of this year's NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers, will chronicle his rookie experiences in a weekly diary for ESPN.com.

Drayton Florence
Florence
Last week there was so much going on I forgot to mention the most important thing that happened: My folks came into town -- before the game was moved -- and I got to eat some of my mom's delicious home cooking.

The meals my mom made for me was the first home cooking I had since I came to San Diego. In addition to the great meals, it was awesome to see my parents and I was glad they got to see me play in person.

Last week was a lot like the previous week. There were a lot of things going on with the wildfires and as a result we had to leave San Diego a few days early. We packed up and flew to Champaign, Ill. on Wednesday afternoon for our game in Chicago.

We practiced for a few days at the University of Illinois facilities. The fields and locker rooms were fine. We stayed at one of the local hotels and while it was a different routine for us, the time we spent in Champaign went very well. All the people I met there were really nice. I actually got to spend a little time in the town of Champaign and people were very supportive of what we've been through with the wildfires. Plus, they're good football fans and I enjoyed talking football with them.

Spending Halloween in a hotel in Champaign wasn't how my teammates or me planned to spend the day. But we made the best of it. One of the lasting images I'll have is when I went down to the lobby and saw Doug Flutie talking to a family who was staying in the hotel and interacting with their daughter who was dressed in a costume.

As far as football goes, even though we moved halfway across America, our practices went smooth. Unfortunately we couldn't take it with us to the field on Sunday against the Bears. Once again we made too many mistakes and it cost us.

We've reached the halfway point of the season and like the rest of my teammates, I'm not happy with our record. We all know that we've got to make more plays and cut down on the mistakes. When we start doing those two things, we'll start winning games.

As far as my performance, first of all I'm thrilled to be playing in the NFL. I enjoy everything about it: practicing, meetings and playing on Sundays. I learn something in each practice from the coaching staff that makes me a better player. All I want to do is become a better player and I know that what I do on the practice field lays the foundation to become a better player. Which is why I'll continue to work hard in practice, improve as a player and do whatever the team needs me to do to help us win. For the last half of the season, I'm going to continue to work hard, improve every day and try to become a better player.

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