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ServPro First Responders Bowl … Ain’t Happenin

December 27th, 2018 · Tags:Music · Satire · Sports

All roads leading to the historic Cotton Bowl Stadium in Dallas seemed to be clear for a timely arrival, even through some rough neighborhoods, west of Fair Park.  I had remembered to bring my media pass and my parking pass, no easy feat for me.  The grayish blue clouds parted for a few moments, as I parked my ride and a few traces of sunlight snuck through.  For a moment, it appeared the weatherman’s prediction of rain around 6 p.m. might be insignificant for the noon kickoff. Things were looking good for the 2018 ServPro First Responders and PingWi-Fi had answered the call.

 

The old stadium was buzzing with police presence, with patrol cars parked just beyond the south endzone where the players exit the tunnel and take the field.  SWAT-like officers darted in and out of entry ramps toting nice machine guns.  Firefighters were huddled here and there.  And as I circled the perimeter dressed in black, with my black backpack so fully loaded on my back … hmmm … I might have looked a bit “iffy,” even with my media badge.

I noticed a member of the Dallas Police Department nearby when I took a seat on the Boston College bench for a few minutes during the team warmups for the BC Eagles and the Boise State Broncos (yes the guys with the blue carpet in ‘they house’:) I turned and thanked the policeman for his service, and he shook my hand.  Just a few moments later, as I raised up from the bench and walked back toward the entry ramp, I noticed a second officer talking to the first policeman, and then moving toward the same area where I had chose to store my bag.

Hmmm … interesting.  First this other officer was near me, near the 50-yard-line, and now the officer was a few feet away as I rifled through my bag and attached the long-distance lens to my Nikon.  I finished loading up for a photo shoot from the sidelines, and approached this second officer, a female member of Dallas’ finest.

“Am I under surveillance?” I asked, jokingly.

She smiled and said yes, but she didn’t think there would be any need for backup with this non-threatening, fading man.

 

This Guy? Not There!

We laughed. I threw out my customary “thank you” for her service.  I love to back The Blue.  And we shot the breeze for a while.  She told me about the process and training she went through to join the force. I told her a little about this blog.  She told me that she works a rough part of far southwest Dallas, but thank goodness, had never been in a hostage situation (that being my bizarre line of questioning).  We traded thoughts on the game, though she was not a football fan.  We stood with our hats over our hearts as a talented member of the DPD belted out a great rendition of The National Anthem, and we discussed his great voice.  I noticed the players from both teams standing respectfully during the anthem, almost as patriotic as the game a few days before in which the team members of the Army Black Knights stood saluting our flag.

The F1RST Responders Bowl (as the bowl’s organizers brand it in print) was set to be another heaping helping of patriotism and appreciation for those who give their all to keep us safe.  In two bowl games — The Armed Forces and The F1RST Responders bowls — I had the privilege to see and appreciate some Americana of the greatest magnitude.

Apparently convinced I posed no threat, the officer, “Norma,” stood on duty in her assigned position in front of the stands, and I moved on, circling around to test fire the camera, checking the light … which was definitely fading away, into a much more gray sky.  And yes, I had to tease her in parting and say, “Oh nice.  ‘Norma’ … just like Marilyn Monroe.”  She laughed a little and said, “Yes.  Just like.”

By the way, I checked for Wi-Fi down on the field of The Cotton Bowl … and it wasn’t happening either:(

The last 30 minutes on the scoreboard timer, leading up to kickoff were about the longest half hour of my life.  “Let’s get this party started.”  “Let’s light this candle,” and all those other catch phrases ran through my head … “Hurry the hell up …”

Finally, we had kickoff, and not long after, the bigger, more physical Boston College squad pounded out a quick score — a banged-up A.J. Dillon scored on a 19-yard run up the gut giving Boston College a 7-0 lead on their first possession of the game … a score and lead that would eventually be erased, becoming a mere footnote from the only bowl game ever cancelled due to weather.

The TD That Never Happened

 

Soon after the only TD, lightning was spotted in the area.  The game announcer instructed the fans to make their way to the plentiful common areas of the iconic old stadium … and wait.  And of course the teams retreated back to their dressing rooms.  The Boston College band and I set up shop under the protection of the stadium tunnel, where they took the opportunity to shoot selfies, from what would be a historical footnote kind of game.  The musicians setting down their iPhones only for a moment or two, when a loud, booming thunder and a flash of light in the distance resulted in them clapping and cheering.  Little did they know …

I was glad I had rushed around and tried to get a few shots … early …

A Pass That Never Happened

 

Near-Sack That Never Happened

 

A Pitch That Never Happened

 

Tackled In Bounds … Never Happened

 

This Sideline Huddle … Never Happened

The game had been halted with five minutes remaining in the first quarter, never to resume.

But … during the Lightning Delay, this Ping did what Ping does.  I went “’splorin.’”  After taking the opportunity to tell the bowl staff members that their mindless cigarette smoking right in front of the gated door at the top of the ramp was poisoning each and every fan, official, police officer and band member in the ramp, all the way down to the field … and that they should have the sense/courtesy to move away from the door … I went through a little glass door where some of the Boston College staff members sat with a pallet-sized stack of sports drinks, waiting.  I hopped on that elevator in the team area, went up to two, got off and took an old, empty concourse around the stadium toward the gates where fans enter the stadium.

That was a mixed bag.  Fans who had traveled for hundreds of miles were milling around, perhaps enjoying a drink, and hoping to see their team get one last win in a good season.

The game announcer had given way to someone with a sense of humor and a good spotify playlist or whatever.  The old Cotton Bowl’s bowels were churning with songs about rain.  “Who’ll Stop The Rain,” by Creedence Clearwater Revival was a natural.  “It Never Rains In Southern California” (Albert Hammond) seemed a bit of a thorn in the side for the Dallas deluge.  I found The Carpenters’ “Rainy Days And Mondays Always Get Me Down” a bit gloomy for my taste — both back when it was popular and now as we lamented a game getting washed away.  I digress …

Ha … then I got all “Vegas, and stuff.”  What I mean is … in the blog’s younger days, I made a practice to attend as many electronics conventions as I could, out in Vegas.  And my rule of thumb was to just walk into the big, private parties at the nicest hotels, as if I “owned the place” or like I at least belonged there.

 

This Exec., Not There, Elevator Didnt Go Up

I remembered that party strategy as I jumped on the club elevator, and intended to ride up to the press box.  However … a regional executive who worked for the bowl game’s title sponsor, ServPro, politely started up a conversation.  I explained to him that I was a journalist covering the game, and not the photographer hired to do publicity shots of the party in the private suite upstairs during the game (ha … which he assumed).

What the heck.  I rode on up to the VIP lounge and box seats and partied with some excellent chicken fajitas for a while … laughing in my own self’s head that I was like an undercover, “double-nought” spy … or corporate spy or something.  You see, for eight of the 10 years of this blog, PingWi-Fi.com, has worked for ServPro’s biggest competitor … my “Dirty Gig” entries on this blog are not sponsored … however, I have worked two jobs … both independent blogger … but also as an employee, with another disaster recovery company funding my travel around the world.  So … I was like a coyote in the henhouse or something like that.  … It was as if I were spying on ServPro … LOL.

Well … I am a pretty unbiased journalist first and foremost.  So I didn’t use the situation to dig up any dirt on the disaster recovery specialists.  I just ate their chicken and left … then finally making to the press box.

The journalists were pretty much all gone … either to the bar, or perhaps they had given up on the chances of more football that day.

I walked around a little more … looking at the ever-gray skies.  And then decided to make a run for it.  I went to my car and drove back to Fort Worth, still hoping the lightning delay would be just that … only a delay and not a cancellation.  Hopefully, I would get to watch the remaining three quarters of the game on my telly.

As I drove and hit more and more rain … I knew it was not looking good.  I thought about the end of the F1RST Responders game … almost before it got started … ha … “Like It Never Even Happened” … hahahah … Do you know that advertising slogan?  It is the ServPro advertising slogan.

I had to get home and post my clever idea about the slogan before someone else did.  But, the hour-long drive back to Fort Worth gave all the other clever chaps on Twitter a headstart advantage.  So, although I might have been the first to think of it, before the game was actually called … A few had posted it before I did, I think.  It was not until I got back to the world headquarters of PingWi-Fi.com that I saw the news release from the bowl game management, announcing the game and its one score, were no more. (I bet I was the first to tweet a photo college with the advertising slogan superimposed in an actual game photo, with a football pass flying right over the ServPro name in the background, however …)

 

The 2018 F1RST Responders Bowl … “Like It Never Even Happened.”  What a terrible outcome for all of the men and women in Blue, Red and Orange who were to be treated to a great game and honored throughout the day for their unselfish bravery … all washed away.  All those fans who traveled so far …  Such a shame.

But you know, these cloudy things tend to have a silver lining.  I am willing to bet that the bowl game’s title sponsor probably got a thousand times more brand recognition across the country as sportswriters and bloggers and Twitter types around the world had a field day with the whole bowl that never happened thing.  Well played, my worthy competitor.

It never happened.  I know, because I was not there.

Know what I sayin?