HOUSTON — In 2008, ESPN hired the British soccer analyst Andy Gray to do color commentary for Euro 2008. At the risk of divulging too much information, let me say that I’m a pushover for European soccer and especially British commentary. I had the vague notion of writing something about Gray’s across-the-pond role, and I contacted the PR folks at the Worldwide Leader.
Sure enough, Andy and I had what I considered a bang-up phone chat. (He probably considered it the worst 20 minutes of his life.) I could have listened to him all day — he has a wonderful Glaswegian brogue — but finally I took mercy on him and signed off. And, long story made in no way short, I never wrote a word about it. Just couldn’t figure a way to make it work for the local audience.
I related this encounter to my family over dinner, saying, “I’m kind of sorry for wasting his time, but I’m not that sorry — I really enjoyed talking with him.” And Daughter No. 1 looked at me sternly and said, “Dad, you need to be using your powers for good.”
That’s kind of how I felt here Thursday as we awaited Lady Gaga’s appearance at a midday news conference. On hand for the ol’ AJC were two photographers, one videographer, one music critic and the inimitable Jennifer Brett. Esteemed sports colleague Darryl Orlando Ledbetter was also in the room, hunkered down in Row 2. There was no need for me. But I went. Because — again risking TMI — I really like Lady Gaga.
If you’re asking, “Do you own any of her albums?”, the answer is yes. If you’re asking, “Could you sing the words to any of her songs?,” it’s yes again. (Tie between “Paparazzi” and “Poker Face,” both off “The Fame,” for my favorite.) Have you heard her latest release? Yes indeed. (And “Joanne” is excellent.)
What can I say? That my attendance was born less of journalistic duty than of being a big dumb fan? Well, yes. But I make no apology. I wanted to be there. I’m glad I was there.
Did I take photos on my phone? Yes. Did she come across as charming and clever and, dare I say, lovely? Yes, but I expected no less. Was I thrilled when D-Led rose to ask which team she picked to win? Absolutely. (She said she’d write her choice and put in her shoe and show it to us after her halftime show.)
Granted, much of the presser was Hollywood hokey, meaning heavily staged. (D-Led excepted.) Terry Bradshaw asked a question that became a bit that went on for five minutes to no great effect. Simone Biles asked if Her Ladyship needed gymnastic tips. Osi Umenyiora, seated behind me, asked if she could help him with the words to “Paparazzi.” (Heck, I could’ve done that.)
Still, the Lady had her moment. When she said, “That kid that couldn’t get a seat at the cool kids’ table and that kid who was kicked out of the house because his mom and dad didn’t accept him for who he was? That kid is going to have the stage for 13 minutes (Sunday)” — that was just wonderful. That’s the best A that will be given to any Q in this Super week and maybe any Super week ever.
And here we return to our regularly scheduled sports scribbling. Here I resolve to use my powers only for good the rest of the week. Except for those 13 minutes. I’m watching those 13 minutes.
Super Falcons stuff: