Monday, October 6, 2008

McCollum's Perspective, Save The Date & Crazy Like A Fox

I had the opportunity to serve Fox Sports yesterday as the Time-Out Coordinator (TOC) for the Chicago Bears' 34-7 victory over the Lions yesterday at Detroit's Ford Field. Even the staunchest Lion backers will admit it was an ugly defeat for the home team, and nothing was uglier than the booing that took place as the Lions left the field for halftime trailing 17-0.

Andy McCollum was one of those Lions that endured the wrath of the fans as he and his teammates walked off the field and began the long walk up the tunnel at Ford Field. McCollum's a center with the Lions and he easily could have walked up to his team's dressing room without making eye contact with anyone -- no one would've blamed him -- but he didn't.

For about 300 elementary kids lining the tunnel in full pads and uniform, this was their moment. The Lions hosted four youth football teams and their cheerleaders who were waiting to play 5-10 minutes of football on the same field that hosted Super Bowl XL. While a tempest of ugly fandemonium was taking place from the stands, McCollum went out of his way to make the moment special for the kids.

Wearing his No. 67 jersey, McCollum high-fived every kid that stuck his hand out, whether it was a cheerleader or player or coach. He cheered them on with "Have fun out there!" and other words of encouragement. The kids responded with a "Let's Go Lions!" chant, unaware of the ugly response 35,000 Lion fans had just serenaded the home team with.

McCollum didn't have to do any of his good-natured gesture with these kids. He's a professional athlete with professional responsibilities. Maybe he simply needed to feed his own soul after the verbal abuse the Lion fans were dishing out as the team walked to the tunnel. Maybe McCollum simply is a kid at heart when it comes to football. Possibly McCollum remembered his own experiences playing youth football and wanted to pay it forward, so to speak.

Whatever it was, it was thrilling to see. It made professional football human for these kids instead of monstrous men hulking upwards inside a massive, larger-than-life stadium. It was one of the classiest gestures I've ever witnessed a professional athlete offer and it was genuine, unplanned and not designed by or for a staff of public relations professionals.
In the worst moment of a bad season so far, Andy McCollum showed his heart yesterday and made some 300 kids Lion fans for life.

Save The Date: I'll be hosting an interactive viewing of the Images of Football from the four high schools in the City of Dearborn on Wednesday, October 8th at the Dearborn Public Library on Michigan Avenue. The program starts at 7pm and will feature pictures and images from Dearborn's Pioneers, Edsel Ford's Thunderbirds, Fordson's Tractors and Divine Child's Falcons.
After the program I'll have a book signing and sale in the atrium of the library, with the benefactor being the Dearborn Public Library. Come Join me!

Bear Down: The orange gloves of the TOC came up missing yesterday in pre-game production, leaving me with no visable eye candy for the game's referee to see me with from 60-80 yards away. Thankfully, the Bears saved the day. The team's equipment manager handed us a long-sleeve orange shirt and a set of orange-faced gloves. The Lions donated a white NFL t-shirt and the problem was solved. Thanks, guys!

You're On: I was the man yesterday for three brief moments yesterday. With the weight of the world on my shoulders, and all of the western world, not to mention mankind, watching with unfettered attention, I cue the game's Referee for three game-altering replays... OK, it wasn't that big of a deal. We had three replays and I had the responsibility to cue the game's Referee for live television's presentation of the announcement. Thankfully, my man Rich York helped make it flow smoothly yesterday and our broadcast was like Krylon: No runs, no drips, no errors.

~ T.C. Cameron is the author of Metro Detroit's High School Football Rivalries, and is working on a follow-up title, Metro Detroit's High School Basketball Rivalries!

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