22 years ago John Elway sent me to the Pro Bowl armed with many Sony Watchman TV's...
(The National Football League today plays its Pro Bowl all-star game in Hawai'i. This marks the 22nd anniversary of my one, and only, appearance with the NFL all-stars at Aloha Stadium. I'm DVR'ing the BIG GAME, so don't tell me no stinkin' scores. This is MY Super Bowl in some respects, and I can thank John Elway for the honor.)
John Elway sent me to the Pro Bowl. Guess who is my favorite all-time NFL player.
The Pro Bowl generally is a laid-back affair, past and future, at Aloha Stadium. It features special rules such as no blitzing, no zone defenses, no trick offensive formations.
The games are low-key for a while, that is until the second half when the all-star competitive juices -- not, those kind, lighten up -- kick in and some rules are better honored in their breach than their observance.
But the Pro Bowl is an afterthought as yet, the week before the Super Bowl this year, and in past years the week following the Super Bowl when most everybody has gone football home.
Not for me. The Pro Bowl is mine, baby, all mine, thanks to Elway.
ESPN, 22 years ago, staged a "You Pick the Play -- Quarterback Challenge" contest. For four Sundays in November, viewers of the ESPN game of the week could call a 1-900 number at $5.95 a pop, limited to one call per quarter with the objective of picking the next play a team would run.
ESPN divided the field into sections by yard markers and hash-marks. Plays were assigned point totals. A running play to the right side was one point. A 10-yard pass to the left side was three points. A completed pass of more than 25 yards between the hash marks of the middle of the field had the highest point total. It was five freakin' points.
Under the very fine print section of the rules, ESPN deigned to disclose a toll-free number would be provided if requested. I believe there was some kind of law requiring this. I requested, baby, and I got to work. I studied the offenses of the teams that would appear in the four contest games.
Elway's Broncos de Denver was one of the teams, and even played in two of the games. It soon became apparent Elway was the guy who was going to punch my golden ticket to Diamond-head. This was the one guy with the arm, desire and ability to max out my point total with long bombs down the middle of the field. I figured he was good for at least one per quarter of any game he played.
So it went and so I went. I missed one the four games for some reason. Guess I had a life beyond football then, can't remember. But basically, I won every quarter of the three games -- two by Elway -- I played. It all came down to that toll-free number and Elway's brain. People didn't much hanker to the $5.95 per call price tag. As an Elway expert, I rode his arm all the way to paradise.
I ended up with eight Sony mini-TV's, a sports video collection, and an all-expenses paid trip to Hawaii, and cash, for the Pro Bowl.
I won two more Sony watchman TV's, too.
However, I was watching one of the Sunday night games with -- believe it or not, one of my 89 Facebook Friends today for random reasons -- Also Aswell. We had just finished watching that darn new show at the time, "Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire" starring Will Smith.
I told him about the contest. Being a highly intuitive artist, Also also known as Chuck said if I won a TV during the next quarter, I should give it to him for the sake of karma. So, he got one TV.
Another TV was lost when Bruce, the curator of the Tulane Jazz Archive, and my supervisor, answered the archive phone. (I used several phone numbers as I recall as a safety measure.) He said, no, Dan would never enter a contest like that. As I tried to yell from the back of the library to give me the damn phone, he hung it up with a grand flourish. Frenemy to the end, me bad, he said with a wry smile.
I kept two TVs and sold the rest, mainly to Asian immigrants, although to an Iranian native as well. No matter what price I set, or how we negotiated, the final price always seemed to be $150. Guess that was market value.
One time, a scraggy-looking semi-street guy came around with several small kids and his wife in some ragged kind of jalopy. He said they were living in the car and wanted the mini-TV for entertainment. Was it true? Dunno, but I just gave him the TV. What the heck, they worked like s*** anyway. Sony only sold the model a few years.)
The trip was awesome, of course. I hung out with Japanese girl tourists who gave me strange tasting candy and a...well, PG-rated here. I sat behind the Miami Dolphins offensive line in the stands, amazing them with my play calling expertise as I shouted out each play before it happened.
Saint Morten Andersen, a favorite of mine, one of the top kickers in all-time accuracy, shanked the game-winning field goal attempt. A Dolphin turned around, laughed and advised how he saw Morton partying his arse away the night before at Waikiki.
Ah, good times. ESPN discontinued the contest after that. However, whatever, Elway earned a fan for life.