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Sports in Real Life

Oct. 14, 2008
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  The Interstate highways across the nation, as well as the shock absorbers on the Madden Cruiser, breathed a collective sigh as NFL broadcasting icon John Madden will take a break from his magic bus. Madden will miss the road trip to Tampa, his first abandoned broadcast in 476 games, since Reagan first moved Nancy into the White House. Madden, 72-years-old, says he's just taking a break from the rigors of the road.

  So the old guy wants to spend some time with his grandchildren. Lord knows he's paid his dues in smelly locker rooms, stale busses replete with old coffee and septic aromas. Madden wants to be more like Wilford Brimley, without the oatmeal.

  NBC Sports President Dick Ebersol not only approves of the week off, he suggested it over a year ago.

  Madden's fear of flying has been widely known for many years and is said to stem from a 'full blown panic attack' on a flight when he was the bench coach for the raiders. Chris Collinsworth is going to fill in this week in Florida, but he too says he has no desire to 'fly around the country every weekend covering football games because he likes watching his kids grow up.'

  I totally empathize with the voluminous sportscaster as I too hate to fly. I started flying as a kid with my parents, long before airline travel became the busses of the sky. Before every hillbilly with a knapsack hopped on a plane to visit cousin Earl back in Virginia. In the days of yore we were treated to full meals, not a sack of dried peanuts and a soda. We were issued eye blinders to sleep, towels to wipe our hands, respect from the 'stewardesses' as they were known back then. Long before the 'flight attendant' moniker was introduced.

  Madden has earned a right to travel in any mode he desires. By train, bus or horse-drawn carriage.

  Travel in professional sports is brutal. I have a friend who does play-by-play for a Major League Baseball club. He's on the road more than the Joads in Grapes of Wrath. Away from his son for half the year, hopping on jets several times a week, eating hotel food two to three times a day. Yeah, it sounds glamorous. Just try it for a few years. It's a high price to pay to earn your living, even if you love the job.

  Now if we can only figure out a way to get Packers radio announcers Wayne Larrivee and Larry McCarren to take a few weeks off. All inclusive trip to Mexico, a free visit to Disney World. Larrivee with his amped-up, bigger than the game persona is deeply annoying. An arrogant slug matched only by his dullard side-kick in McCarren. When most ex-athletes had the dignity to nurse their war wounds in private, McCarren feels the need to bring his sullen and holier than-thour attitude to the airwaves each and every week. These two jamokes are a match made in heaven.

  Dusty Roads

  Former Cubs bust-out and current Reds manager, Dusty Baker, is managing October baseball in the Bay Area. Baker's son Darren, now 9, is playing in a 10-and-under tournament at the Twin Creeks Sports Complex in Sunnyvale.

  Apparently the regular head coach is off on some retreat and Darren begged his old man to coach the team. He said it was always a dream to have his father coach his team. That's funny, I couldn't get my father to attend one game, much less coach. Then again, I'm pretty sure he couldn't have found home plate with a map.

  The Jet Set

  Coach Mangini of the Jets actually has a 'routine' he goes through with Brett Favre after an interception. Considering Favre's propensity to get picked off, these guys must engage in this routine often.

  I imagine it's fairly routine around the league to hold such mini-conferences after an interception. Mangini attempts to pick Favre's brain regarding the receiver involved, route adjustments, pressure, or if Favre was trying to thread a needle through a haystack of defenders. (More than likely the ultimate cause for the pick.) Whether it was a good play and the execution was poor. Can they come back to the play later.

My guess is Favre is distracted by the hottest of hot cheerleaders on the sidelines, the Flight Crew. We're talking about a dozen of the most incredible babes this side of the Pecos wearing a little more than an ascot and hot pants, knee-high take me home and _____ me boots. With this eye-candy within striking distance, it's a wonder he doesn't throw the ball into the stands more often.

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