By Tim Green

Theme One: Peer pressure affects you all through life.

There are several times in this book that the protagonist, Clay Blackwell, is peer pressured into doing things. The first time is after he finished his junior year's football season. Clay had a great junior season and knew he would be drafted in the NFL draft, but he wasn't sure about it because he wanted to get his degree. His dad wanted him to go to the draft and was all over him about it because he didn't want Clay to miss out on any money he could get if he stayed in college and either had a bad season or got hurt in his senior year. So, he gives into his dad and declares for the draft.

Another time is when he first gets to the teams facilities in the summer, and he willingly goes out with a friend he met after a workout. Clay thought that they would just be going out for a few beers, but when Clay and his new friend Max go to the club he is quickly being given drink after drink by Max and the others he's met. Clay doesn't want to be rude so he gives into their peer pressure.

Peer pressure also happens when Clay has the coach and the rest of the team on his back about using the new steroids that the team has been giving their players. At first Clay says he not about cheating and using those things. But, after the coach has been on his butt about not being a team player, and working him way harder than all the rest of the players at practice, he finally gives in and starts using the drug against his better judgement.

Theme 2: One bad decision can turn into many negative situations.

The entire Ruffians team using the anabolic steroids turned out to be very problematic for them, but the problems were not just the normal roid rages, acne, abnormal hair growth, and other usual steroid issues.

The steroid use had the worst affect on Clay's best friend Max. He had been a user of the steroid since day one, and had seen the normal affects of the drug. Max had never had any major issues and was told it was certified by the FDA. Until after a football game Max was having what he though was bad heart burn. It turned out that the constant use of the steroid caused Max to have a heart attack and it killed him that night.

Clay knew Max's death was caused by the steroid that he and the whole team had been using. But the coaches told reporters that Max's death was caused by an overdose of cocaine, because they had found some in the same room as Max. This made Clay furious, the death of his best friend and now they were going to cover the real reason he died. He went and sat down with the team's coach and manager and told them he wanted to quit. What Clay didn't know was if he quit he would lose everything he owned. Clay had to go back to the drawing boards, the second time he sat down with them he told them if they didn't trade him he would reveal the secret about the teams steroid use to the press and everybody. The coach claimed Clay had no proof until Clay pulled a bag of needles and empty vials of the drug. The manager and coach were very quick to comply to the offer after they had realized how much proof Clay really did have. So, in the end, the steroid use in the Ruffians locker room put a lot of people in a QUAGMIRE even for the people not actually using the steroid.

How the Themes Relate

In the beginning Clay being peer pressured into using the drug, and the rest of the team using the drug caused a lot of problem for Clay and the people around him. It not only gave him the weird side affects, but it also killed his best friend.