Monday, August 6, 2007

"Mean Joe" just mean

A few random thoughts and observations from the Hall of Fame pre-game party and game last night in Canton.

The GOOD: The fans were really in good spirits. To be in my Browns jersey while surrounded by Steelers fans would usually draw a lot of foul language and stupid behavior. Other Browns jersey wearers (we were definitely in the minority) seemed to also acknowledge the good sports in black and gold. Nice to see Pittsburgh and Cleveland fans behave -- at least until opening day.

The GlenOak band was solid at halftime as always, and the pre-game ceremony flag was really sharp. The lead singer from the group "Train" did a great job with the Star Spangled Banner and helped add one more layer of distance to Macy Gray's awful performance of a few years ago.

Inductee Bruce Mathews spent nearly an hour at the Tailgate party signing autographs and posing for pictures. He really seemed to enjoy meeting with fans and having a good time. Many of the other inductees and past enshrinees also interacted with the crowd. I got to meet Raymond Berry. Very cool.

I love that folks in the area never, ever throw away football shirts. I saw one lady in the group with a Jack Lambert Steelers shirt from the 70's. It had a few holes and a lot of tackles, but it was worn with real pride.

The BAD: The military honor guard was the worst I've ever seen at a sporting event. Made up of members of each of the service branches, the group simply walked across the field without even trying to stay in step. Not only was each walking at the beat of his own drummer, but a few were making high steps while others were gliding along. Considering the large applause they were receiving, they could have at least tried to say "left, right, left" and stay in step. Just awful.

The New Orleans cheerleaders were really nice ladies but their actions were out of place. I got to meet at least six of the "Saintsations" as they were working the entrance and VIP tent before the event selling calendars for $15. I found it a bit odd that a multi-$$ event like the HOF game needed the cheerleaders hocking calendars like tag day for a high school band. The girls/ladies/performers had great southern accents and were a big hit. Helen approached my brother-in-law and me about buying a calendar, which we declined. Had the calendar $$ been going to a cause or charity or something, I'm sure we might have considered a donation. Still, it just seemed odd that the cheerleaders (I think "Saint Misbehaven" is a better group name) were handling cash from strange men like they were working a strip club instead of simply taking part in a meet-and-greet. Still, the ladies were quite nice and at least dressed better than last year's string-bikini-type show by the Philadelphia Eagle cheerleaders.

The MEAN: While security was keeping autograph seekers away from the enshrinees, many still came over and signed a few items. Mean Joe Greene was also in that section, but kept to himself and never visited the crowd for even one second. He did seem like he was having a good time chatting with Thurman Thomas, but never even acknowledged all of the Steeler fans just feet away.

As the VIP event was ending and all of the fans were emptying out into the rain to walk to the stadium, Greene was one of the last to leave. The only autograph seeker still holding out hope of penning Joe's signature was a 10-year-old boy from Florida. He'd been waiting so long that a security guard -- whose job it was to keep fans away from the athletes -- actually took the boy's pen and paper and walked it over to Joe. I heard him ask Joe, "this boy has been waiting here all night for you, could you just sign this for him?" Joe could have signed the paper and no one in the crowd would have ever known that he'd given away the one autograph. Instead, Joe shut the security guy up quickly with a firm, "No." The security guard walked back to the lad and gave him his paper back with an apology.

Moments later, HOFamer Mike Haynes saw the boy looking dejected and stopped to sign his paper. The boy, dressed in a Steelers #39 Parker jersey, mustered a smile and said he was ready to be a Raiders fan now. Haynes, who played in Oakland, said "Good boy."

I didn't expect Greene to reenact his famous Coke commercial, but it wouldn't have killed him to sign that one boy's paper.


Anonymous said...

No biggie, but the horrible National Anthem peroformance a couple years back was given by Canton Native Macy Gray

Eric Mansfield said...

YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY RIGHT! I actually met Tracy Chapman many years ago and mixed em up. My bad .. goot catch .. and my apologies to Tracy, whose from Cleveland I believe. So they're both local.

Anonymous said...

Years ago Don Shula wouldn't sign a Dolphins t-shirt for my step-daughter before the parade; he said he wouldn't sign anything with the Dolphins on it. We were mad and she was crushed and crying. Her dad wore it when he was a kid.

I don't pay for TV; can't afford to and would have went to a restaurant to watch the game but this year I had another idea.

I went to the HOF game sort of, I waited outside the fence as years ago I was told you could get in free after halftime but not anymore. That wasn't so bad as I was there but I asked the security guard at the end of the game if I could go in for a minute and take a picture of the scoreboard. He said NO, you can't come back in once you leave. The game was over and the crowd wasn't that bad and I would have waited longer if he would have let me in; I wanted to hit him with my crutch. What harm would that have done; I couldn't run away?

Love ya, Eric.

A Poor Pittsburgh Steeler Fan.