I work in sports. That’s what I do. So I often times have people ask me…”Did you work this game?” or “What is your favorite sports moment?” This week a Northern Iowa player hit a buzzer-beater from half court to win a 1st round NCAA tournament game and I was there. It was AMAZING!!! Now…I’m not one with a memory so vast that I can remember every game and every player I have ever seen. I’ve been to a lot of places and seen a lot of events, some I’ve seen IN the arena as a fan and some in a tv truck sitting in the bowels of a stadium watching on tiny little monitors in a tv truck. Sports has been a big part of my life and I’ve seen some magic through the years. Does UNI’s win rank on that list? Well…I got thinking about that and so…here is a list of my favorites…some that the nation saw…and some that it didn’t. Either way, those moments are in my head and will never leave me, either because they were amazing moments in sports history…or because they are amazing moments in my life.
10. 2015 U.S. Open
This one resonates with me for a couple of reasons. One…it was the first golf event that I worked for FOX. It was also the first golf event that FOX had ever done so there were some interesting things happening all week at Chambers Bay. It all came down a single moment. Dustin Johnson and Jordan Spieth were back & forth all day for the lead. Johnson crushed a drive off the 18th tee and chipped up onto the green for a 15-foot birdie putt and a possible win. He missed that putt by maybe 4 feet. And then, with everyone in our truck tired from a long week and a possible Monday playoff looming on a make, Johnson missed the putt, giving Spieth the win and our entire truck erupted with happiness! No one ever wants to stay an extra day on a golf event and, despite the fact that a playoff would have been HUGE ratings, we all kind of wanted it to be over. Thank you Dustin Johnson!
9. Homer Bailey Throws A No-Hitter
I’ve seen a LOT of Reds baseball through the years. Been to a lot of games in the 90’s and worked a lot of them since 1998. Homer Bailey’s excellent performance on July 2, 2013 is the only no-hitter I’ve ever witnessed live. Oddly enough…when it happened, our tv truck was kind of quietly excited. Uncle Roy Alfers (our director) followed the action and everyone did their jobs as we captured a magical moment without a lot of whooping & hollering. Still…as far as baseball goes…it was a pretty cool moment!
8. Dave Jamerson Goes Nuts In The 2nd Half
Back in 1990, I was a junior at Ohio University. Our men’s basketball team had one of the best shooters in the country in a guy named Dave Jamerson. The day after my birthday, I talked my Dad into coming down to OU to go watch the Bobcats take on Marshall. Dad had heard about Jamerson and wanted to see what all the hype was about. In the first half, he literally couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn. I don’t know how many points he had but it wasn’t much. I remember Dad saying at halftime that he didn’t see anything great about him. In the 2nd half, he went INSANE. He hit from EVERYWHERE. I don’t know how many points he ended up with but I do remember him pulling up from just past the midcourt line and hitting a 3-point shot. After that, OU cruised to a win and I could say I’d seen one of the best players in Ohio’s history pretty much win a game by himself. It was one of the more amazing shooting displays I can ever recall seeing…
7. 2015 Men’s NCAA Tournament 2nd Round – Louisville
I’ve been working the NCAA Tournament for many years. I’ve seen some crazy stuff happen along the way, including this week’s 1st Round buzzer beater here in Oklahoma City. But for me, it’s not always about the single games but how the entire day rolls. On that first day, we have 4 games at every site and THAT is a LOT of basketball. So if you get 4 blowouts, it makes for a very long day. In 2015, I was in Louisville where we had Cincinnati playing Purdue, UCLA facing off against SMU and a highly-rated Iowa State team taking on UAB. All 3 games were won by 1 point (the Bearcats forced OT with a Troy Caspian last-second layup and went on to win) and it was probably the most fun I’ve had working a single-day in my entire career. It was AWESOME BABY!!!
6. Super Bowl XLIX
I have worked many Super Bowls before…but never had I actually worked the game. In all my previous years, I was on a pre & post-game show, never actually working DURING the game. This was my first chance at scoring the largest viewed sporting event in the world and I was lucky enough to be actually doing it…for the world. I was on the international feed of the game for NFL Network when it came down to the final seconds between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots. Pete Carroll’s Seahawks had the ball with a little over 2 minutes remaining and down by 4 points. Russell Wilson led them down the field quickly, and on one play, Jermaine Kearse made a crazy, “on his back” 33-yard reception that kept the drive alive. With 26 seconds remaining, the Seahawks had the ball on the 1 yard line and the best power running back in the NFL. It was a no-brainer. Then….for some reason…the Seahawks elected to PASS the ball and it was intercepted, giving the Patriots the ball and the win. One of the most insane endings to a game I’ve ever seen and it was on the world’s biggest stage.
5. 2010 NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship (Butler vs Duke)
I had a dream. And that dream was to work an NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship. In 2010, I got my opportunity. CBS was testing the latest television gimmick, 3D television, and I was lucky enough to be asked to do the graphics for the event in Indianapolis. It was a lot of fun testing and trying out the new hardware. I learned a lot that weekend and also got the opportunity to see what some would consider to be the most amazing non-play in men’s basketball championship history. The hometown favorites, the Butler Bulldogs, were down 2 points in a slog of a game. Seriously…it really was a boring game until the end. Both teams shot poorly all night and there wasn’t much to talk about until Duke intentionally missed the 2nd of two free throws with 3 seconds left in the game. With no timeouts left, the Bulldogs grabbed the rebound and Gordon Hayward launched a half court shot that had the distance and hung in the air for what seemed like forever before it clanged off the rim giving Duke another championship title. Still….I’ll always remember that moment and my first tournament championship!
4. The Reds Make The Playoffs!
September 28, 2010. The Reds were on the verge of making the playoffs for the first time in 15 years. They were playing the Houston Astros and they were tied 2-2 in the bottom of the 9th when Jay Bruce stepped to the plate. With one mighty swing, he homered to center field and the Reds were in the playoffs!!! It was easily the most exciting baseball moment I’ve ever been a part of and the electricity when he hit the ball was off the charts. I remember everyone in our truck yelling when he hit it and the fans going nuts! Very cool moment in my life. I hope to see it again some day…
3. I Score 11 Points In A “College” Game
Look…I love basketball…but I am, by most standards, an average player. I played in high school, didn’t start until my senior year but got plenty of playing time. I have always enjoyed playing and so in 1988, when the basketball coach of Ohio University-Zanesville asked me to play on the team, I have to imagine it was pretty cool. I say “have to imagine” because I totally don’t remember most of the time playing on the team. I was a scrub by all measures. They needed players, I was enrolled on campus, so I was a logical bench guy. The catch was that I only played in home games. I had a job and school so my time was pretty much filled. The coach allowed me limited practice time and no road games. So…I got a few minutes here and there at home, playing before 20 people in our lovely gym. The Ohio Regional Campus Conference is probably somewhere between Division III and Division 50. No one cares. But there was one game where I got plenty of time when one of our starters fouled out and the game went into OT. I somehow managed to score 11 points and we won the game. It’s not really all that noteworthy except for the fact that I managed to score in double digits in a college game and THAT is the highlight of my basketball playing career (But that time I scored 55 in a rec game? THAT was EPIC!).
2. Jay Burson
If there is one person who has sparked a million conversations in our family it is Jay Burson. Jay played at John Glenn high school from 1981-85. In our little town, he was big news. They dubbed him “The Show.” He scored 2,958 career points and his scoring record lasted in Ohio for 22 years! I remember Dad taking me to see him play in a game at John Glenn vs West Muskingum. It was the first time I had seen him play (I was a sophomore at Rosecrans high school at the time) and I remember Dad asking me to pick Jay out among his team members during the opening warmups. I have to tell ya…I picked everyone on the team BUT him. But from the opening tip, it was obvious that he was special. 6’0″, scrawny, and fast as lightning…the guy was unstoppable. The one shot I remember the most vividly was a pullup jumper from the wing where he had to double clutch when a defender jumped out at him to block his shot. He went up, literally hung in the air as the guy went flying past, and calmly sank the shot. It was incredible. He then went on to play at Ohio State and had a great career until he broke his neck in a game against Iowa his senior year. Not sure what he’s doing these days but I find that he is often a topic of conversation between my Dad, my brother and I at any given time.
1. Anything My Kids Are Playing
All the professional players & college players couldn’t hold a candle to watching my kids play a sport. Between soccer to baseball to basketball to volleyball to football to horseback riding…you name it, my kids have probably done it. And when they’re playing, there’s nothing more exciting and satisfying than watching them do it. I know, I know…this is a cop out. But truth be told, I’d much rather be sitting in the stands in the middle of July heat watching my kids do anything for fun than pay for a ticket (and parking and overpriced food) to watch adults get paid a gazillion dollars to bat .220 or shoot 2/22 on any given night. I’d do it if you paid me (obviously)….but not the other way around. Watching my kids play any sport (and most parents would totally agree with me on this) is why we are parents. There’s nothing but pride when they bring home a trophy for winning the Knothole Championship or when they win multiple ribbons in their first horseback riding competition. As time goes on, I imagine all of the moments listed above will give way to things my kids will do. Christopher starts high school next year and I can only imagine what the next 4 years of watching him play will be like.
So there ya have it! My Top 10 favorite sports moments. Northern Iowa didn’t make the grade but if I can remember who the kid was who hit the game-winning half court shot in that 1st round game in…someplace (I don’t remember) for that one team….uh….well. It WAS exciting at the time, ya know. Definitely a great sports moment! But Fer throwing for 200 yards, 2 TD and a couple of big tackles? Yeah….there’s no competition.