I've spent a lifetime on a football sideline. Some people just see it as a mosh pit of people, screaming coaches, tired players and a bunch of Gatorade bottles. Me? Some of my favorite stories of all-time have taken place on a football sideline.
There was the time I talked back to my dad, our defensive coordinator, when he came up with an offensive play that I didn't think would work. To get me to "believe", he hit me in the face with his play card and told me it would work if I ran the play properly. He was, gulp, right and I deserved the card to the face.
There was the time I ran on the field to taunt/celebrate Bay City HS after we beat them my senior year and my coach snatched the back of my shoulder pads and nearly threw me on my behind. Of course, I didn't care, I hugged the man and nearly brought him to tears. RIP Coach Landes.
There was the time Bill O'Brien didn't like the fact that I missed a tackle on a touchdown run against Penn in 1992. Yeah, these Texans aren't the only ones to have felt the wrath.
There was the time as young coach that I got doused with ice water after my defense came up with a goal line stand to send our team to the playoffs for the first time in our school's history.
Those are just a few of the hundreds of stories I have. I grew up as a coach's kid, so I spent most of my life on a sideline. I know that 80 yard patch of grass very well. So, when Marc Vandermeer asked me to be the team's sideline reporter for the 2014 season, I said yes before he could finish getting the words out of his mouth. I felt like I was headed back home.
Well, last Saturday night's game was my first night on the Texans sideline at NRG. I survived Saturday night in Arizona so I felt like I kind of had the lay of the land, if you will. What I failed to realize was that when on the home sideline, the mobile TV camera is on that side of the field. So, as I navigated out of the way of the cheerleaders, Texans staff and now that mobile camera, I thought I had cleared all of the obstacles.
As I started to make my way to get closer to the sideline, I heard this whistling noise, sort of a whizzing sound as I moved that way. I tried to play it off as nothing really but as I looked down the sideline, Texans long snapper Jon Weeks was firing punt snaps to punter Shane Lechler. And, by firing, I mean on a rope. After the game, someone on the sideline who saw the entire scene unfold asked if I knew how close I was to taking a Weeks snap to the schnozz. I knew it was close; he chuckled and said "uh, inches away".
A Weeks laser to the nose would've sent me to the hospital with my nose turned south by south east. I would've looked like Rocky after 15 rounds with Apollo Creed. I could laugh about it after the fact but I couldn't help but think how that would've gone down during the broadcast.
Marc: "Let's go down to the sideline...well, it looks like a gurney is being brought out. John, can you give us an idea of what just happened? What's happening?"
John: "Yeah, Marc, uh...(faints)
Marc: "John? John?...okay, back to the action..."
Thankfully, Weeks didn't put me into a permanent daze. I would've never told that sideline story, much less remembered it.