Do you remember your first? After almost 30+ years in this business, I’ve been fortunate to experience many great “sports firsts.” What a joy it was to get to Texas in 1990, just one year after Jerry Jones and Jimmy Johnson had burst onto the Cowboys scene. Covering the Cowboys all through the ‘90s was an unbelievable ride.
I will never forget Super Bowl XXVII. On January 31, 1993, I walked out of the tunnel and onto the field at the Rose Bowl long before the fans were allowed in. I looked up at the empty bowl with the palm trees visible and blue skies beyond, and I just said, ”Wow!”
The guy standing next to me said, “They should play the Super Bowl here every year.”
I turned to agree and was stunned to see that I was standing with the National Anthem singer, Garth Brooks. I tried to play it cool and stammered something like, “You’re right, they should….and, by the way, I love you … well, your work … I mean your music!” Garth knew what I meant.
The day got even better when the Cowboys crushed the Bills 52-17. The next day, Troy Aikman was a guest star on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. I was with NBC5 at the time, and we got an invite to do an exclusive story about how the Super Bowl MVP spent the day after the big game. I still remember sitting in the Green Room when Jay Leno came in to greet all of us. Talk about a week full of special “sports firsts!”
My favorite college football “first” was covering the undefeated Texas Longhorns against the undefeated USC Trojans for all the marbles. Texas trailed by 12 points with 6:42 left to play. Once again, I found myself at the majestic Rose Bowl where media members must walk through the stands to get to the field to conduct post game interviews.
As I passed several burnt-orange-clad fans, they asked, “It’s over isn’t it?” I confidently said, “Are you kidding? Not with Vince Young at the helm!”
If we’re being honest, I also thought it was over, but I wanted to make the Texas fans feel better. Of course, led by Young, Texas did come back to win. The night sky was filled with orange and white confetti, and the grand old stadium served as the backdrop of what many still call the best college football game ever.
This year will be somewhat surreal as we say goodbye to another grand stadium. Globe Life Park in Arlington is still the place of one of my favorite baseball moments. When Neftali Feliz struck out Alex Rodriguez to send the Rangers to their first World Series …what a night! What a memory! What a first!
Our amazing sports community continues to provide thrills and chills. I can’t wait to see what memories and special “firsts” the Rangers’ new home will hold.
Sports columnist John Rhadigan is an anchor for the Fox Sports Southwest television network.