2014 Bassmaster Elite at St. Johns River St. Johns River - Palatka, FL, Mar 20 - 23, 2014

View From The Ear Hole: A Rookie’s Tale

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.

“Any minute now my ship is coming in…”

Dateline:  After weigh-in

Three Rivers Stadium.


49’ers vs Steelers.

Steelers win the toss, kick off, ball sails into the 49’ers end zone.

I’m  standing on the sidelines, right close to the Steelers bench, about as close as you can get, at the time I’m working at WPXI-TV in Pittsburgh, a couple of weeks away from taking the job offer from ESPN.

I want you to do this, go find the biggest, fastest, fattest, dudes on your block.  Give them a bunch of beer money, then have them stand, one on each corner of your block,

then tell them to run as fast as they can down your sidewalk,

and smack head on into each other.

Best if you stand right in the middle of the block, impact point.


I guarantee you this, if you are within feet of the of the impact point the air will get sucked out of YOUR lungs, you will first hear the sound of bone on bone, then belly’s on belly’s, then you hear the groans, the hummpffs, the arrgghhs,

now multiple that by 22,

and add a whole lot more speed to the collisions,

that’s what its like to be on the sidelines of an NFL football game.

So, first game, first kickoff, I’m standing there, not watching the hits as much as trying to watch where the bodies are flying to make sure the flying bodies aren’t flying my way.

Boom, boom, boom x’s 22…grunts, groans, some spitting, the sound of big shoes on fake grass, and then,

as I’m standing there this one player wobbles off the field, I can see his head is still connected mostly as it should be but,

his helmet is turned halfway around, his ear is looking out through the face mask, his eyes, least one of them, is looking at me through the ear hole,

and he sort of does that wobble-trot over to the bench, twists his helmet back to the right way of being on his head, takes it off, drops it on the ground, turns around and plops his arse down on the bench at which point he looks up,

and blesses himself.

I smile, and think,

Welcome to The NFL,


As I covered the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, NCAA, NASCAR and the Olympics, I saw first-hand that there was one universal law between all those sports, the law of,

The Show.

Doesn’t matter the sport.

Doesn’t matter how good you think you are at the sport.

Once you make The Show, you are going to be humbled.

All your high school trophies, all your college trophies, everything you have ever won before making The Show, every ribbon, every patch means,


Double squat.

In The Show everything is bigger, stronger, faster.

You may think you are hot you-know-what, but,

you ain’t.

You about to be lookin’ out your ear hole.

You, about to be schooled.

“…let me throw one more dice…”