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

Splat!

My research crew on the shelf next to my writing desk...now you know...and WHY.My research crew on the shelf next to my writing desk...now you know...and WHY.
Fast forward almost exactly 20 years…Joe Horrigan, the VP of Communication/Exhibits of the Pro Football Hall of Fame…

…and a dude from Buffalo, N.Y., just like me (shout out to Buffalo working stiffs everywhere who have made it), has just taken me back into the bowels of the Hall Of Fame to show me some of the things that haven’t made exhibit yet, when I suddenly hear booming through the back, “Barone, where are you, Barone….”

And as I turn the corner and go into the Pittsburgh Steelers ROOM in the Hall of Fame, I hear, “Here’s your Coca Cola.”

And former Steelers Coach, and about to be tomorrow Hall Of Fame Inductee, Chuck Noll hands me the plastic cup of soda he bought for me.  “Barone, where did you go…”

“Dude…they have some Buffalo Bills stuff in here…”

Coach Noll just looks at me.  We are maybe 24 hours from his induction; I’m working at WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh, my second year there. The folks at Three Rivers know me, so in between Coach’s interviews with the networks and all the other local TV folks, I slip back in the room and sit on the chair next to him and we talk,

we talk of how he bought the first house in Pittsburgh he ever looked at and stayed in it for 33 years until he retired last year as head coach,

we talk of his boats, sailboats and others,

he quotes Emerson a lot,

tells me how much he likes to cook,

how it is so “very nice now” to be able to visit for longer periods with his kids and his grandkids,

we never, for a moment, talk

football.

It’s not what he wanted to talk about.  He was doing dozens of interviews a day about it, but everything he was telling me was that he was much more off the gridiron than on it.

I was fine with whatever he wanted to talk about. We were just two dudes drinking cokes and swapping stories/lies…he did ask me once why I never asked too much about the Steel Curtain, “Born and raised in Buffalo…”

“Oh…”

“But I can quote Emerson, too.”

Laugh.

Then one time he gets back from an interview and just collapses in the chair, I look over and say, “Dude, you alright?”

Coach just looks at me, “Must be the 100th time I’ve been asked, ‘What is the secret to my coaching success?’”

“The Buffalo Bills…”

Coach smiles:  “I give them the same answer, preparation and execution…”

I look at him, give him the universal sign of slumped shoulders and raised eyebrows that means, “Sounds good to me.”

Then coach looks to his left, to his right, and looks straight at me and says, “The secret to success is to score more points than the other guy.”

“…and you're coming on strong…”

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