Welcome to the third post of the Great Writing Challenge of 2012.
Five days a week for six months, I will be given a topic to write about. The stipulation: it must be 250 words (or more), and positive in tone.
If you would like to suggest topics for me to write about, please email me at therebeccaproject [at] gmail [dot] com.
I live in a city that has two NFL teams, neither of which have been any good since I have moved here. I have trekked down to see the local soccer team, the San Jose Earthquakes, and I have seen the greatest team in the world (FC Barcelona) play Mexican side Chivas at Candlestick. I have even watched the Superbowl live in Australia, New Zealand and Ireland (if mostly for the half time entertainment), but never have I been to a Niners or Raiders game in the flesh. And I’m totally fine with that.
Coming from a sports obsessed nation, particularly one that likes to remind you that we’re such an athletically gifted for a nation of only 20 million (25, if you count the talented New Zealanders – we always do), sport has always played such a large part in my life. But getting into a game that interrupts the play for commercials? Wears padding and helmets? I just couldn’t get into it.
But then the American told me about a footballer who bucked the trend: someone who was interesting and funny and honest and candid and… real. Chad Ochocinco. And I was sold. The guy’s amazing. He’s prolific on Twitter, and is just so positive in the face of adversity. One of the best attributes is his generosity. He cares and provides for his family, as well as his fans. Literally. He often invites his fans to join him for a movie and popcorn, or breakfast at IHOP, or for coffee at his favourite establishment, Starbucks. At his expense. So few professional athletes would invite that level of interaction with their fans. In fact, I don’t know anyone else who would do that, but Ochocinco. And we love him for it.
So when he came to town to play the Raiders, he tweeted the invitation to his local fans for lunch at the rather swanky Scott’s Seafood Restaurant. The American and I were so excited to meet him, yet a little wary.
“Should we go? What do you reckon he’ll be like? Would it be weird to just… show up?”
With a little trepidation, The Plan was to go, and see if it all is for real, maybe meet Ocho and see what happens.
We hung out in the plaza outside Scott’s, and waited. Seemed there were quite a few others hanging out with much the same plan in mind. An air of excitement mixed with cool nonchalance. Ochocinco stepped out of a black limo, minus the entourage, and was mobbed from all directions. He seemed shy, but answered questions and signed autographs as he led us into the restaurant, as the American poetically recounts, “like the Israelites following Moses into the promised land of Hors d’oeuvres”.
There were already a few hundred in the banquet room awaiting the wide receiver, and so we opted not to stay for lunch. Just meeting him was the chance of a lifetime. Nevertheless, he stopped by each group that was making a quick exit to say hello and pose for photos. It was fantastic to meet him in person. I made a point to thank him for his generosity, and he was most humble. A real good egg.
If I were to ever meet him again, I would love to ask him about his skin care regime: his skin is fantastic!
* In 2008, Chad changed his surname from Johnson to Ochocinco (8-5 in Spanish) for his shirt number. Awesome.