Surreality

13 years in the business, more than a thousand post game interviews, and I thought I had seen it all. Been cursed at, spit on (accidentally I think), endured smells that had to equal those of Saddam Hussein’s little rat hole bunker, been cried on, and enjoyed side splitting laughter. But never had I conducted any at midfield before the game was actually over.

The protocol for covering NFL games allows reporters onto the sidelines for the last two minutes of the game, and to then access the field of play as soon as the game ends.

So Sunday afternoon, Phil Dawson misses a 51 yard field goal off the upright and cross bar, and it’s on to the field in search of really fresh interviews (the ones on the field are better than in the locker room. So close to the end of the event, emotions are raw and filters often not yet working). I get to Matt Stover who’s always good for a sound bite after a game winning field goal and he’s right on cue. How great it feels, how badly they need a win.. and then lightning strikes.

Cleveland quarterback Derek Anderson, in full view of the camera lens, runs up to us and says

We’re going to overtime fellas. We’re going to overtime.

Stover’s face frowns and he says,

Yeah. Yeah.

The camera then pans left and Devard Darling, with arms spread wide in confusion belts out,


What
happened?



Great question. You see, being down the field is great because you see things you can’t see from the press box or on television. You however also miss things. All we saw of Dawson’s field goal attempt was it bouncing back onto the field. And common sense rang out, telling us the only way that happens is if it hit the cross bar and was no good. Common sense though apparently has loopholes.

Replays of course showed the field goal actually broke the plane and took a crazy bounce off the the goal post beyond the cross bar. What could be more fitting for a team constantly pummeled by the football gods for any and all grievances past.

Brian Billick’s pained expression while hearing the explanation from referree Pete Morelli spoke volumes. Amazingly, the coach that so favors profanity laced tirades, simply turned began imploring his players to get ready for overtime.

They of course could not get ready. In a game so bathed in raw emotions, the Ravens could not recover from the celebrations that proved premature.

Looking then for more post game interviews, the only ones on the field to be found came from the Browns. I talked with Derek Anderson and he equated the day to that of a movie ending. Care to name it? I’m going with the Departed. Had the same kind of happy ending.

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