It's Theismann's World, We're Only Paying Rent
So here I am in Cincinnati for tonight's game between the Bengals and Green Bay. The reason to be here is to watch as Carson Palmer tests his left knee for the first time since that playoff game against Pittsburgh in January when, after that one long pass, he went down awkwardly and ripped what medical experts call "the stuffing" out of it.
Getting here was interesting. I got on the bus after Friday night's game in Philadelphia and we ran into frightening rain, lightning and wind that downed so many trees that the highway was closed and we sat still for about an hour and a half. (We've got a lot of things on the bus, but a storm cellar isn't one of them.) What is normally a nine-hour drive took about 11. Even though you can sleep a little on the bus, you're just completely beat for the whole day when you arrive at 11 a.m. and you go straight into meetings with coaches and players. (It's like I'm bus-lagged. Who knew? I'm not even flying and I'm lagged!)
The problem is that you're so wired with adrenaline for a few hours after the game that you can't really get to sleep, even with enough red to float a barge. I imagine it's the same when you're a player. I should ask Theismann about that.
Speaking of Theismann, the greatest thing about traveling with him is that he is, indeed, Joe Theismann. People know his face; they remember him all the way back to Notre Dame and through his career with the Redskins and winning a Super Bowl. When you go to a restaurant, the game plan is always the same: Joe walks in first. Because everybody knows Joe and likes Joe, doors open and seas part. You'd be amazed how quickly you get to your table. And it isn't by the kitchen door or the bathroom either.
In all my years as a sportswriter, I've constantly been reminded about what accrues to being a big-time athlete in America. You can have all the radio shows and "PTI" shows in the world and people can like your work (or not), but there's nothing like having been a hero in the Super Bowl on national TV before 100 million people. So pretty much what I'm doing is what they do in those NASCAR races. I'm getting as close to the bumper as possible and drafting on it.