KFHB 27 – Sunday, 6:36 pm January 1, 2012
Ah yes. Back in a familiar place. Sitting at a table in O’Hare Airport, typing out a blog post. Just one more connection (in 2 hours) and I’m home. And this flight looks wide open. Did I say I hate flying standby? Because I love flying standby.
This is the retrospective post.
The last 5 days have been just about as much fun as one person can have. I always feel guilty saying something like that, mostly because my wife and kids were not with me. All “as much fun as I could have” things should include your wife and kids, right? Well, yes and no. I’m certainly not going to put the Kraft Fight Hunger With Sour Patch Kids Bowl in front of, say, my wedding. I’m speaking on a different plane here.
You know how you have those awful days where nothing seems to go right and you’re left to wonder what a good day feels like? And then you have what you consider to be a good day, but you’re really kind of faking it because it’s not really a good day? And then a REAL good day comes along and smacks you in the face and you wonder how life can be so amazing? That was yesterday for me. Yes, because of the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.
Because I have a real job and I don’t have any advertisements on this site, I get a strange reaction from a lot of people. Especially the press (or at least that’s how I observe it). Most people don’t really understand why I do this. 45 people in a press box, 44 of them writing because it’s their job (or because they work for their college newspaper and they hope it’s their job some day), and one dude, sitting off to the side, quietly pumping his fist.
There was a friend of mine in college who got his Aeronautical Engineering degree but went into stand-up comedy (no, not THAT guy). When you asked him why he paid all of that money for an education just to go into standup comedy, he would say “so that when people use the whole ‘what are you, a rocket scientist?’ thing on me, I could say ‘yes’”. That’s kind of how I view this. When people ask the standard “yeah, but would you do it even if you didn’t make a dime at it?” question, I can say yes.
So when a beat writer sees me interviewing a player and has this “wait, you’re taking vacation days from your job just to do this for fun?” reaction, I enjoy saying yes. I simply do this because it’s incredibly fun. If given the option of rock climbing or playing craps or fly fishing or golfing or traveling across the country to sit in the press box and “report” on a bowl game, I’m taking the last one 10 times out of 10. If we go to 100, I might golf the 99th time, but KFHBing gets the rest.
This is what I love to do. So when you combine doing something you love + the interim coach insisting you get as much access as possible because his wife loves your blog + the powerful display of affection from these players at St. Anthony’s + a second consecutive bowl win, well, not many days will top it.
I wish everyone could have hung around those players on the field afterwards. The weight of a 6 game losing streak lifting from 105 players simultaneously is a great thing to watch. Players lifting coaches kids in the air. A near brawl just to touch the trophy. Mocking (in a fun way) Nate and Terry when they were on stage getting their awards. I say it all the time, but these guys work so incredibly hard (year round) just to entertain us with a bowl win. They deserve every ounce of celebration they experienced.
After the game, basking in the glow of all of that, I sent a text to my wife as I was leaving the stadium. Something like “not sure what I’m gonna do now”. Her response: “Walk the streets of San Francisco”. Great idea. So for an hour, that’s what I did. I made my way to Market Street and just walked around. The drummer in front of The Gap was amazing. I almost bought a necklace for my wife, but I didn’t have enough cash on me. The crowds were great – guy in a tux, then 2 college kids with dreads carrying sleeping bags, then a group of Illini tourists, then 3 women dressed to the nines for their NYE party. If you picture this as the final scene of a movie, I was the guy with the smile, walking slowly, as life bustled around me.
And as a nod to Coach Beckman and the future of Illinois football, I specifically found a place for dinner where I could get Steaks And Cakes. Best dinner I ever had.