Tag Archives: Atlanta Falcons

Houston, We Have a Problem

28 Feb

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including sports disappointment for me recently. Consider the following heartbreak in Houston, where I lived as a kid:

  • College Cup: Following a scoreless draw with defending champ Stanford in the mid-December NCAA soccer title match, my Wake Forest Demon Deacons had a penalty kick opportunity to take home the trophy, but were denied on two straight attempts as the Cardinal, which did not score a goal during the entire Final Four weekend, successfully defended its crown.
  • Super Bowl: Less than two months later in NRG Stadium in Houston, my Atlanta Falcons somehow relinquished a 28-3 second half lead to the hated Patriots to also lose in overtime. The emotional and psychic wounds from this debacle will hurt for a long, long time. My therapist says I’m doing a lot better though: down to only three to five Big Game what-ifs per day now.
  • NCAA Baseball: As if to confirm the horrid luck in Houston, my baseball Deacs were swept by the University of Houston Cougars to open their season a couple weeks after the Super Bowl.

There is a bright side at least: I’ve gotten five Texas magazine freelance assignments in that stretch. All work and no play make Brian a full boy?

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My Top 5 Writing Assignments

28 Jun

5. HALL PASS: Coming two years after their Super Bowl campaign and not long before the Michael Vick Era (at least the good part of it), the Atlanta Falcons’ 2000 season was nothing to write home about. But the writing I did at home games that year for the organization’s PR staff was certainly quite memorable. My feature story on defensive tackle Travis Hall ran in the game-day program and on the team website.

4. NOTHING LIKE THE FIRST TIME: My first ever journalism assignment had me interviewing my golfing hero and the 1987 Masters champion. Larry “I Can’t Believe” Mize pulled off a miraculous, sudden-death, 140-foot chip-in to beat Greg Norman that year, one of the greatest shots in golf history. On top of the unmatched drama, the Cinderella story (he was an Augusta, Ga., native who actually manned one of the Masters scoreboards in his younger days) and his Ga. Tech ties, Mize performed his heroics during a time when my love for golf was really beginning to blossom. He instantly became my favorite player. I will say this: his nerves during that epic Masters playoff were far sturdier than mine when I called him for that March 2000 interview.

3. DON’T FORGET TO RECYCLE: During my grad school days at the University of Georgia, I was paid to play and profile The Georgia Club for the Columbus, Ga., Golf Guide. As if free golf and fun work weren’t satisfying enough, I then got paid again for the piece, after only minor modifications, by a local magazine! (Just a few years later, The Georgia Club would become the venue for our traditional guys golf outing the day before my UGA Chapel wedding.)

2. MIXING BUSINESS & PLEASURE IN VEGAS: In March 2005, I convinced my boss to fly me out to Las Vegas for a roundup of stories for my western-focused real estate magazine (including this piece on the $1.5 billion Cosmopolitan Resort & Casino, which opened in December 2010.) Not coincidentally, my good buddy/college classmate and the fellas flew in on the second night for his bachelor party. After cruising around town from one interview to the next in a sporty red rental (while blasting Sinatra), I switched gears and cruised the Strip with the boys during a fun-filled, March Madness-themed Sin City soiree. Airfare covered.

After I told Hammerin' Hank that I was born the same year he broke Babe Ruth's home run record, he responded with "That was a pretty good year."

After I told Hammerin’ Hank that I was born just a few months after he broke Babe Ruth’s home run record, he said, “That was a pretty good year.”

1. A HANKERIN’ FOR THE BEST: My first assignment for the Atlanta Braves magazine ChopTalk involved interviewing Hank Aaron! One on one in his office overlooking Turner Field! The true home run king and baseball legend was so relaxed and genuine that my interviewing nerves were soon calmed. I remember thinking: I should be paying for this incredible experience, not the other way around! As the years go by since that rarest of assignments in early 2009, it seems more and more unreal that I got that very unique opportunity with Hammerin’ Hank.