Meeting your heroes in real life is always a risky endeavor. Far too often the person you saw on your TV screen or phone that you believed to be more super hero than person, ends up being more dickbag than deity. They drunkenly hit on your chick or blow you off for an autograph and just like that, in one brief interaction, all of your fond memories go down the drain.
If only every star could be more like Paddy the Baddy. I'd gladly take him telling me about his dog's sloppy shit in my yard over the time one of my childhood heroes took a sloppy shit on my head in front of the world. Metaphorically of course. I'm not OBJ for Christ's sake.
When I first got into the media I covered the Ohio State Buckeyes. I would drive down to Columbus from Cleveland twice a week to cover media availability and the games. It was a dream gig for a kid who grew up a Buckeye's fan. The first few weeks I was scared of my own shadow.
The players were my age so didn't bother me but Jim Tressel was like a God. Bigger than life itself, he was a sweater vest wearing, three yards and a cloud of dust, field position flipping megastar in my eyes. A man that could do no wrong after he won the most unlikely of National Title's in 2002.
As time went on I became more comfortable with asking questions, but in this era no one - and I mean NO ONE - asked Tressel tough questions. You might as well have had to wave an Ohio State flag to get the mic in postgame pressers.
It was 2010 and #1 Ohio State had just gotten romped by #18 Wisconsin to seemingly dash their National Title hopes. I decided I was going to ask Jim about the special teams, which had been an issue for them all season. I couldn't even finish my question when he looked at me the way you look at someone who brazenly cuts in front of you in line.
You know that feeling the first time one of your friend's parents yelled at you? The one one where you wanted to cry, piss your pants, and get your dad to fight them all at the same time? Take that and multiply it by a thousand.
For what felt like five straight minutes (but was probably 15-20 seconds) he berated and belittled me making me feel like the smallest person on earth. I don't even remember exactly what he said because I buried it deep down and never spoke of it again. You know the way real men deal with things.
To this day, I still diddle in my pants when I see someone wearing a sweater vest. PTAD. Post traumatic argyle disorder.
It took damn near a decade for me to get back into Ohio State football again. But I didn't have to worry about something like that with Tony, the wobbly drunk Browns fan.
If you missed it, Tony took the world by storm last week when was caught on video doing what in boxing is described as a standing ten count. Most people saw a hilarious dude blitzed off hard seltzers struggling to make it through a football game. I saw a hero.
Not only was Tony everything I had hoped he would be, he was 10 times more. An absolute gem of a human. I had heard legends of this animal from mutual friends but to experience him in all his fascinating glory was truly a treat.
Could you have ever imagined the man who spent 45 seconds battling gravity in front of the entire world would be a wine-drinking, world traveling, commitment-friendly renaissance man? If you say yes then you are damn liar, my friend.
God bless Tony and every other die hard sports fan like him.