The Slice

Letting go of an old, pointless grudge

On Oct. 1, 1988, I listened to the radio broadcast of a WSU football game. Can't recall what else I was doing. I just remember that I was in my apartment in downtown Spokane.

The Cougs were playing Tennessee in Knoxville. WSU won handily, sending UT to its fifth straight loss.

I had lived in Tennessee for a few years. And my wife has a graduate degree from UT. But the score of the game didn't bother me.

Here's what did.

As the outcome became certain, many of the 92,000-plus fans started booing and what have you. That happens.

But the guy doing the play-by-play on the WSU broadcast made it sound like he feared a hillbilly riot was about to break out at Neyland Stadium. I think the word-picture he was going for was something akin to a scene from "Deliverance."

I suspect he was just trying to be colorful.

Still, I didn't care for it. He didn't strike me as someone with a sophisticated grasp of the Southeast and all its complexities. Nor had I realized that, by comparison, Cougar Country was populated exclusively by the champagne and tuxedos set.

Anyway, I was never impressed with his broadcast stylings over the years, not that I would qualify as a regular listener.

But if you stick around long enough, people start calling you a legend. And I just read the other day that the legend in question is giving up his play-by-play duties.

I recalled my reaction to that 1988 radio broadcast. A thought occurred to me.

As someone who knows a bit about rubbing certain people the wrong way with an offhand remark, I probably should have tried to keep that guy's career in perspective.

He has been doing games for decades. My writing him off partly because of a humor misfire 25 years ago now seems a tad small.

So I hope he is OK with his new job description. I trust he is hearing from his loyal fans about what he meant to them.

Just being there counts for something. And he has been, for a long time.

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