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After a Visit to Jacksonville, I Feel Like (Whitney) Houston

By Tony Kornheiser
Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Last week, I mentioned police escorts and how nice they are. But they can't compare to having your own uniformed, heat-packin' officially licensed police officer to protect your person.

That's what I had Monday night for the game in Jacksonville, where I'm not exactly Man of the Year, unless it's in the sense that, say, Typhoid Mary was Man of the Year. This all goes back, of course, to that column I wrote about 18 months ago poking gentle fun at that fine city. The response from Jacksonvillians was swift, strong and overwhelming: They wanted me dead and my head on a stick. As a result, I needed police protection.

Enter Bobby. I'm not giving Bobby's last name in order to protect him. But he investigates homicides for the Jacksonville Police Department (which made him a good call for me. I'd still be fresh once he got there!). Bobby was affable, professional, competent and comforting. Thankfully, he never once said to me: "I read your column and I agree with everyone else. You stink."

Every step I took, Bobby took with me. Sometimes, I would look around and wonder if I had lost him. And then he'd be right there, a half-step away, either on my left or my right. He was so close it was like I couldn't see him in my rear-view mirror. He even went with me to the bathroom. (Thankfully, he stopped at the stall door.) As they say in the Canadian anthem, he stands on guard for me.

To be fair, I didn't ever really feel I was in danger. Some people recognized me and shouted stuff. I just kept walking. And Bobby kept walking with me. Most of the stuff was pretty positive, except for some fans screaming, "Hey, Tony, how do you like us now?" But drunken fans anywhere might gurgle that up.

Bobby was with me on the way to the booth, in the booth and on the way out of the booth. And, let me remind you, he was packin'. Later, I found out he even had on a bulletproof vest. (Did he offer one to me? Noooooo.)

When it was over, Bobby escorted me from the stadium to my bus (and no, Cindy, I did not kiss him good night, although we were so close for so long that in some island cultures, we'd be married). I thanked him and gave him an "MNF" shirt.

Thanks to Bobby, I was quite comfortable. So comfortable, in fact, that I am tempted to write another column. (Hi from Jacksonville! See ya at the Dairy Queen!) That way, I'll get Bobby again for Week 11.

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