Thursday, May 26, 2011

We can't help but wonder what it would be like if Clay Matthews were a Bill

Before I began my question-and-answer session with Clay Matthews at the Rochester Press-Radio Club Day of Champions dinner Tuesday night, I decided to have some fun with the Green Bay Packers All-Pro linebacker.

I told him and the audience of more than 1,100 that we were going to do a little play-acting. We were going to pretend that I was NFL commish Roger Goodell and that this was Draft Day 2009 at Radio City Music Hall in New York. The fantasy scene set, I then intoned into my wireless mic: “With the 11th pick of the 2009 draft, the Buffalo Bills choose Clay Matthews, linebacker, University of Southern California.”

Ah, what could have been.

The dinner-goers, the majority of whom were Bills fans, roared as I handed Clay a Bills baseball cap on the stage at the Rochester Riverside Convention Center. He played the good sport and held it in front of him. But he refused to put it on, saying he was quite content about the way things turned out. With good reason. Being snubbed by the Bills and 24 other teams enabled him to be chosen by the Packers, who won a Super Bowl in just his second season.

The 25-year-old with the deep football bloodlines proved to be one of the more genuine and personable headliners we’ve had at our annual dinner, which has raised well over a million dollars for local children’s charities in 62 years. I was especially impressed with the kindness Clay showed our honorary dinner chair, Conner Newcomb, an 11-year-old who’s valiantly battling cancer.

The Bills, of course, chose Aaron Maybin with the 11th pick of that draft three years ago, and he has wound up being one of the biggest busts in franchise history. I remember Maybin showing up for the Press-Radio Club dinner shortly after being drafted and actually dosing off briefly at the head table.

That was a great gesture by top Bills pick Marcell Dareus to show up at the workouts arranged by George Wilson and the other locked-out veteran players.

I guess I should have started this blog by saying how happy I was the world didn’t end Saturday as predicted. Our fearless prognosticator preacher from California is now saying that we have until the third week of October. That means you still have time to squander all of your life’s savings the way many people did after the pastor’s first prediction.

I would have liked to have seen Jeff Van Gundy get the Los Angeles Lakers job. But I knew it wasn’t going to happen because Phil Jackson and Jeff repeatedly exchanged verbal barbs when they were coaching against one another, and Jackson’s girl-friend just so happens to be the daughter of Lakers’ owner Jerry Buss.

My bride is feeling a little better knowing that ABC will be running Oprah re-runs for the next few months. It will help assuage the Oprah withdrawal symptoms she is dealing with now that the maven of TV talk shows has called it quits.

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