OXNARD, Calif. – You set goals to start each day when you are on the road. Working away from home has many variables, including travel, even if it is by car. So today, our goal is to cover the Cowboys’ training camp in Oxnard and then head to the Rams’ training camp in Irvine to interview three San Antonio natives, Malcolm Brown, Josh Reynolds and Ramon Richards.
What looks good on paper doesn’t always execute as well.
The first complication develops when the Cowboys switch the fully-padded practice to the morning session. That means the walkthrough is reserved for the afternoon workout, since Wednesday is a players day off. The reason that complicates matters is that the fully-padded practice is two hours long, not an hour like it is for the walk through. Further complicating matters is that we need a one-on-one interview. That means we will have to wait until after the workout to get that done. If that wasn’t enough Alfred Morris is participating in his first workout since he was signed to replace Ezekiel Elliott, who’s holding out for a new contract. That is a “must get” as well.
The challenge has been issued.
We were hoping to get on the road by 1 p.m., but, of course, the practice runs long and position meetings extend it even further as we wait to talk to Alfred. While Billy and I are in the scrum with Morris, Mike is setting up the interview area on the field to cut down on time. Once we are done with Alfred, as luck would have it, Chidobe Awuzie is doing interviews on the field, which gives us more time to get ready for him. We couldn’t have asked for a better interview, but when we are done, it’s already 1:30 p.m. and we are now a half hour behind schedule.
After taking 15 minutes to load up, we are on the road again. This is where things get even more fun. Mike and I have to write and edit the 5 p.m. and the 6 p.m. broadcasts while we are in the car with Billy driving. No offense to Billy, but working on a computer with roads that wind through the Santa Monica mountains is a challenge in of itself. Thankfully, it gets done. Irvine is 103 miles from Oxnard, but traffic means the trip is taking much longer than we thought. Google maps tells us it’s a 2 hour, 38 minutes drive. That means we will have to pull over somewhere to broadcast the 5 p.m. first. We find a suitable location along the PCH and knock it out in about 20 minutes. We load up the equipment and we are back on the road again. Did I mention this is something we could have never done 3 years ago?
Our second location is not very suitable since we are now on the 405 in stop-and-go traffic and by 6 p.m. San Antonio time, we have only made it to Los Angeles. We pull over at a gas station to find some trees as a backdrop and that’s where it’s going to have to take place. It’s done and we are back on the road again.
Time is a serious factor now because the rams practice could end at 7:15 pm SA time or 8 p.m. We are hoping for those extra 45 minutes. Mike is texting the Rams PR person about our situation and that we are coming in hot. She was extremely helpful, and as luck would have it, Coach McVay decides to keep the team working until 8 p.m. San Antonio time. We arrive just as practice is ending. Thanks to the Rams staff, we are able to interview all three players. While we are waiting for Malcolm, Todd Gurley sits down next to us. When Brown emerges, he’s informed he’s part of the “210 crew”representing San Antonio. Todd thought the 210 designation was very cool.
After visiting with Malcolm, it’s now 9 p.m. back home. There’s not much time to find a suitable location for our 10 p.m. live shot, but we agree on the Newport Beach Pier. Who knew it would be packed with families swimming at that hour? Finding a place to park was a challenge… We left Mike in the car to wait while Billy set up the live shot. I continued to write the show so Mike could edit. Did I mention I left the printer back at camp because it ran out of ink? That meant I had to hand write the broadcast.
It’s one thing to deliver a broadcast in an unusual location with printed scripts. It’s another to try and read your own handwriting while the sun has set behind you. Somehow, it gets done with no drama this year. Last season, Billy and I were harassed at the Santa Monica pier by a woman who wanted to be in our commercial. She yelled the same thing at us over and over again. Billy was nice enough to print it on a name plate for me. I still have it. Thanks, Billy.
Now, the only decision to make is where to eat dinner.