Footsteps

Don Barone

About the author

Don Barone

Don Barone

db has been in the reporting biz for over 30 years, won some Emmys and other awards, but is proudest of his four-decade marriage, his two kids and the fact he founded Tackle The Storm Foundation to help children.

“You're a real tough cookie…”

Dateline:  Knock Knock

There are, behind all of us,

footsteps.

True story:  I once had a semi-moron News Director lead me into the middle of the busy/filled newsroom I was working in, and then with a sweep of her hand say exactly this to me, “Any one of these reporters in here would love to have your job.”

And then she yelled this:  “All of you who want Don Barone’s job, raise your hand.”

Three hands shot up.

Footsteps.

I’ve heard them.

True Story:  From the book, Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, this from Sportscenter Anchor, and friend, Jack Edwards on reporting the Olympic Park bombing, “We had a tremendous investigative producer who had an unimpeachable source, and we went on the air and said that Richard Jewell was no closer to the center of the FBI’s “first circle” than any other suspect.  We never varied from that even while everyone else was identifying Jewell.  For me, that was Sportscenter’s greatest moment because we were the only, and I do mean, only news agency not pegging Richard Jewell.”

After we reported that on Sportscenter I sat alone in an ESPN editing room, in the dark, watching all the domestic, and some international news agencies, file reports naming Mr. Jewell as the main bombing suspect.

The news biz world was basically saying the opposite of what I just wrote.

And we broadcast.

I had just gotten off the phone with a shouting boss who, after a bunch of cursing, basically told me that if my information was wrong he would happily replace me “with any number of people who want your job and can do it better.”

Footsteps.

Yeah, I’ve heard them.

Some were soft.

Some were loud.

But all were after just one thing.

Me.

And once again I’m hearing footsteps, but,

this time they are not coming for me,

this time they’re coming for,

the Elites.

“…that's okay, lets see how you do it…”

Knock, knock.

Here it goes, this year, 2014, we’ve got 14 “rookies” on the Elite tour.  Not a record, in 2006 we had 20, in 2011 we had 15 (thank Ken Duke for this info, not me, thanks Ken) but you know what, anytime you through a Bakers Dozen plus 1 into the mix…you are going to stir up the pot some.

At the half turn point of this shindig, check this out, of the four tournaments in the books, TWO were won by the new guys:  Brett Hite won tourney #1 on Lake Seminole and Jacob Powroznik won the last gig we had, tourney #4 on Toldedo Bend.

In the Angler of the Year race 3 of the top 10 guys are rookies, at least what we call rookies in the very broadest use of that word.  They are rookies in the Elites but these dudes have been fishing Pro’s for a while.

“Let’s be honest about it db, I came here to beat KVD.”

I’m sitting at one of those round banquet table things talking to new guy, Randall Tharp.  Randall is sitting on my right, his wife Sara, is on my left.  I’ve talked to Sara a bunch of times both in person and through all those social media things I’m supposed to do.

But this is my first honest to goodness talk with, interview of, Randall.  To tell you the truth, Randall can rub some people the wrong way with his, lets say, exuberance of his fishing abilities.

I understand that.

Randall Tharp, this was supposed to be a Selfie with him but my arms are to short to make me look good so his wife Sara took this shotie.Randall Tharp, this was supposed to be a Selfie with him but my arms are to short to make me look good so his wife Sara took this shotie.

But in truth, it doesn’t bother me much, I’ve been around a whole bunch of professional athletes a lot more, A LOT more exuberant than Randall.  I never got to interview, “The Greatest,” Ali, but I’ve interviewed hundreds who told me how great they are/were.

I’ve never had any champion stand up and shout, “Hey world, I’m…average.”

Whenever I heard footsteps coming my way, I just got, quiet.  More fun to knock them off that way, they never hear it coming.

Randall, though, is not me.  “I want to fish against the best and beat the best.”

And yeah, he’s got the chops to say stuff like that, I checked out his record fishing B.A.S.S., and totally ignored the rest of his professional life, but while on the waters fishing B.A.S.S. he’s been in 32 tourneys, won 3 of them, has 14 top 10’s, been in the money 25 times.

“db, I qualified 3 times to fish the Elite tour, but never did it.  You know though, I started thinking, where would I be if I went the first time I was asked…”

I just sat there writing some notes down, fooling with the paper table cloth under the table, I wasn’t going to say a thing, wanted to see exactly how Randall was going to finish that there sentence, I knew I could finish it for him, you too could probably do the same thing…but he never filled in the blank.

Tell you the truth, when I sat down with the guy, I didn’t know what to expect, big head/big mouth, or, confidence, and I came away pleasantly surprised, sure the guy knows he’s good, because he is good, very good, and let me tell you something, EVERYONE OUT HERE IS COCKY IN THEIR OWN WAY.

You have to be, stand quietly in the corner and you’re going to be out the door pretty quick.

“I came here db, very simply, because I want to be the best, and to be the best you have to compete against the best, and beat them.”

And frankly, that’s not bragging, that’s just a fact.

When Babe Ruth retired he was the all time leader in walks, got the pass to 1st base…2,056 times in his career.  Most threw around him, the best though, the best threw heat.

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