2014 Bass Pro Shops Southern Open #1 presented by Allstate
Lake Tohopekaliga - Kissimmee, FL, Jan 23 - 25, 2014


Here’s why he is laughing, this is the play as drawn out on the palm of his hand, Carl could hear none of it. “Don, I’m going to go right up the middle here (he’s following the line in his palm that will eventually turn into an M), and right here (the V of the M) I will turn left and shoot across to here (the sliver at the base of his thumb), stop, then just fly right up here (to the top of his index finger where the third lamppost TD in the parking lot stood).

“No problem,” I say as he gets ready to side hike me the football…up the outside of the M to the V, turn right to the sliver, shoot up the index finger…got it.



By the time I twisted the football around so I could find the laces he was already at the “sliver.”

Carl was still at the M.

So I drop back a few inches and heave the football as far as I can, which pretty much goes straight up in the air as he is already at the index finger knuckle at which time he does some mid-air button hook thing, comes back and grabs the football right before it smashes into Carl’s Mazda’s front windshield then high steps down to the third lamppost…and stands there spinning the football on his post-route index finger.

Why do I tell you all this…because now a whole bunch of folks, with not much more than hooks and dreams, are heading to the 2014 Bass Pro Shops Bassmaster Southern Open #1 presented by AllState… and all the Opens that follow, with visions of glory. With their fishing playlists on repeat, with a little bit of cash and a lot bit of credit.

One angler, Jacopo Gallelli, from Italy even made this 4-minute video telling the world he is coming:  #BornOnTheWrongSide.

I’m not sure what Jacopo was born on the wrong side of, but I welcome Jacopo to B.A.S.S. tournament fishing, welcome Jacopo, and all the others… but let me please just ask this,

don’t be born on the wrong side,

of this.

That’s what the story of my friend, Carl White, and me is all about.  At the time, both of us were in our late 20s, semi-talented, semi-in-good-shape, but born on the wrong side of being a PRO ATHLETE.

The guy leaning up against the TD lamppost,

not him.

He of soon to have a famous, long NFL career, landing on several Pro Football Hall of Fame ballots,

who could clock 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash,

and who made three NFL Pro Bowls,

10th right now on the NFL All-Time Reception list with,

841 receptions, 13,777 yards, a few catches back from Cris Carter,

and the dude I threw/heaved/wished I had a catapult/so I could have thrown the football at LEAST a quarter of where he was standing and not have to make him spin in the air and come halfway back to me to catch it was a very young Fresno State football player,

Henry Ellard.

“…because you're gonna know lonely…”

In a quarter of a century covering sports, sports played at a level way above me, and probably above you as well, I have met all types of players, all almost superhuman in what they can get their bodies to do,

no matter how good you think you are, you ain’t near this good,

you can wear the jersey,

but you can’t be the man whose name is on the back.

And here’s one thing about those athletes you need to know, not how good they are, or how good they think they are, because most,

never made it.

Only 3% of high school football players ever play college football, probably when you count at least D-1 & D-2 football programs every year you have around 3,500 players available for the NFL draft…about 250 get drafted, not MAKE the team, just get drafted…that’s about 7% of the best of the almost the best.

Drill down backwards and of the approximately 100,000 high school seniors graduating from their football teams…about…about 215 will one day make an NFL rooster.

That’s a,



“…and you're gonna know sad…”