Chasing Big Ben Cross Country

My adventures as a morning anchor continue. I’ll be sharing the story behind my transition from sports to news on my blog here at thepittsburghchannel.

News can happen anywhere at anytime. I learned that first hand Thursday after my last Good Morning America cut-in. Back in the newsroom, there was a discussion as to how we were going to cover Ben Roethlisberger who decided to make his first public appearance at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. The discussion ended with myself and photographer Eric Hinnebsuch rushing to the airport to catch a 10:45am flight — with no clothes or toiletries. We just hopped on the plane with the clothes on our back and traveled to Tahoe.

Seven hours later, we began reporting from Tahoe, compiling interviews from the likes of Mario Lemieux and Tommy Maddox about having seen and talked with Ben. Friday, Ben finally held his press conference which was followed by his round of golf and a one-on-one interview with me from the beautiful shores of Lake Tahoe. Ben looked good and frankly, I think he will bounce back from his accident and be much the same player, though I think he will have a different outlook on life. On which will not take anything for granted.

As for Eric and myself, we stayed one night in the Reno Hilton after a brief shopping spree for clothes and other essentials and then caught the red eye from Reno to Los Angeles back to Pittsburgh, allowing us to get home at 7am Saturday morning. One brief word about LAX: It maybe the worst airport I have ever seen. From the security to the people who are supposed to help you to the lack of transportation between terminals, LAX is the worst and I hope never to fly through that place again.

I learned one great lesson in my whirlwind trip west. I will always pack an overnight bag and leave it in my car with all my essentials and a day’s worth of clothes just in case I’m sent to points unknown on a moment’s notice. Finally, a note for some of the Steeler fans complaining about Ben’s choice to make his first appearance in Tahoe. Some people feel this was a slight against Pittsburgh fans who had supported him through his recovery. Folks, whether he had his press conference in Pittsburgh, PA or Pittsburg, California ( located 2 hours from Tahoe ), he was going to give the same answers to the media and you were not going to be invited unless you were with the press.

The important thing is that the local media made the trip out there and Ben was every accommodating. He did one-on-one interviews with all 3 stations and the media. Plus, we got a trip to Tahoe out of it. Not bad.

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