And now Day 2 is in the books.
This entry will be much shorter, as our travel was cut to a minimum. We arrived, and we left. Our destination today? Bristol, Connecticut, the home of The Campus, as the folks who work at ESPN call it.
We departed Manhattan at 5:45 this morning and arrived in Bristol around 8, just before Jason Romano put Tony through the Full Car Wash (the concept being that after you’ve gone through it, you feel like you’ve…gone through a car wash, without the car). It was great.
SportsCenter Live at 9:15, Mike and Mike at 9:40, Sportscenter.com interview, followed by ESPN Rise (I didn’t even realize that they had a channel for High Schoolers). Tony really enjoyed getting to talk on issues for high schoolers.
First Take, then The Herd. At this point I slipped off and wandered down the hall with the help of Michael Smith, one of their NFL correspondents and host of a variety of shows, who I met a couple of years ago when we were on the “Uncommon” tour. My covert destination? To meet Nate Ravitz and Matthew Berry, the two guys who host ESPN’s fantasy baseball podcast. As I told them, we’re in first in my longtime fantasy league despite my listening to them every day. It was an enjoyable few minutes to put actual people behind the voices.
Then we were off to lunch, where the Dungy group ate with the Keenum group, whom we were running into all day. Case Keenum, the terrific quarterback at the University of Houston who seems to be an even better person. For as many copies of “The Mentor Leader” as we handed out, it seemed a shame to not give Case one, but even though I don’t qualify as a Houston Cougar booster, I didn’t want to give the NCAA a chance to act…
Jason Romano, who is a strong Christian in his own right, took us right back out into the second half of the Car Wash, including SportsCenter Live again, an ESPN.com chat (the same guy asked both Coach Dungy and Case if they preferred gas or charcoal grills…? Weird.), ESPN Digital Media (Tony’s “5 Things that a Rookie Should Take to Training Camp*”), ESPNews, ESPN Deportes (in English, thankfully).
At this point, my day took a turn for the unfortunate, as my shoe came apart across the top. Thankfully, we were surrounded by studios, and they came to my rescue with gaff tape, which held pretty well. I’m going a little more casual tomorrow with my backup pair, not by design.
SportsNation was next, which was very fun. Only about 8 of us in the audience, making noise – most of which was provided by a couple of “professional hecklers” that ESPN brings in for the show. They’re not actually pros, but very vocal staffers who just keep yelling during the show.
Then came my two favorite moments: The Scott Van Pelt show, who was very clear each time he discussed the book, “The Mentor Leader, by Tony Dungy, WRITTEN WITH NATHAN WHITAKER.” I thanked him afterward and he said, “Tony Dungy is just the best guy. I can’t wait to read the new one, because I just loved ‘Uncommon.’” Very cool.
And then, NFL Live, hosted by the aforementioned Michael Smith. Michael arrived early to meet with me to discuss the book, but instead ended up in a long production meeting going over a different concept for their piece with Tony. They ended up deciding to bring in Merrill Hoge, who is mentoring Ben Rothlisberger right now, and have him discuss that process with Tony and Michael. Unfortunately I missed the piece, as I was off in the wings, discussing fantasy football strategy with Tim Hasselbeck. I’ll have to catch the replay on the web.
Finally, Tony taped a piece with Jay Harris for tomorrow night’s evening SportsCenter. Jay, like everyone else I met, was terrifically gracious.
Our trip to Hartford’s airport was a little more exciting that it needed to be, as we had a little mix-up on the transportation from the studio to the airport. I was able to draw on my NFL experience as the Assistant to the Traveling Secretary and help out – hopefully I’ve now earned some of my keep.
And in the airport, we ran into Tony’s old teammate from the University of Minnesota, Hall of Famer Dave Winfield. How fun. Tony reminded me that Winfield was drafted in three professional sports (baseball, basketball and football) despite only playing two in college (baseball and basketball). What I didn’t realize was that Tony and other teammates were trying to convince Dave to pursue professional basketball, not baseball, because he’d have a longer career. Dave chose baseball, of course, and played for 22 years and was a 12-time All-Star.
And if you were doubting the power of an ESPN Full Car Wash, we awoke to an Amazon sales ranking of 76, and I’m headed to bed tonight with it at 27 (it hit 22 as we were leaving Bristol).
We’re in Chicago tonight, where we get to sleep in. We don’t have to leave our hotel in the morning until…6:45. As for me, I only had 3 caffeinated drinks today, down from 8 yesterday. Either I was more careful, or simply more distracted by ESPN (oh, and even Tony was stopping to take pictures of areas of ESPN’s “Campus.” We all did – it was like an amusement park for grown-ups).
*Any guesses as to #1? An Alarm Clock. He said that when he arrived in Pittsburgh as a player, Coach Noll gave them the schedule and said that there wouldn’t be any wake-up calls. They were adults and could decide how much time they needed to be on time.