Strange but true

Tales from the sports beat

C. W. Nevius, San Francisco Chronicle In 1990, the San Francisco 49ers had a big Monday Night Football game, and those games always ended late and made our deadlines tight. I literally used to run across the field and sprint up the steps to the press box—that’s how tight it was. For this game, I needed to talk to an offensive lineman named Bubba Paris who weighed over 300 pounds. Bubba was at his locker, but he wanted to get completely dressed before talking. I mean he wanted to put on his entire three-piece suit, buttoning up the vest, tying his tie. I kept trying to get him to answer a question and he kept saying that he wanted to get dressed first. He finally said, “I wouldn’t interview you in the nude, would I?’’ And I said, smart aleck that I am, “I don’t know, you’ve never interviewed me.’’ And that’s when Bubba stood up, grabbed me by my leg and under my arm and hoisted me over his head like he was bench-pressing a barbell. He held me up there for a while, my necktie dangling, and then put me down. “I told you,’’ he said, “I want to get dressed first.’’ So I said, “Okay.’’

Tanya Lyon, freelance multimedia producer A couple of years ago, when I was working for Time Warner Cable’s sports department, I was in the press box during an NHL game. At intermission, I was talking to a Hall of Fame scout when I noticed an executive from one of the teams watching me. A few days later the scout called me and said the management guy wanted to talk to me about a job. “Tanya, I don’t know what kind of job it is, but this guy is one of the VPs of our team,” the scout said. So the guy calls me and says that he thought I ‘looked really smart,’ and he wanted to hire me to hang out with the players. He said something about when players are new to the team, they’re lonely and you could maybe go to dinner or hang out with them. I wanted to say, ‘Uh, sorry, I think what you’re looking for is a hooker,’ but instead I just said no, and told him I was a reporter. He apologized and said he didn’t know—he just could tell I was really smart.

Barbara Kingsley-Wilson, journalism adviser, Cal State Long Beach One night, when I was just starting out as a sportswriter with the Rochester Times-Union, I took my notebook into the locker room of the Syracuse Chiefs, a AAA baseball team, to do post-game interviews. The team members were standing around watching a hardcore porn film on the club TV. One of the players pointed to an actress on the screen and said, “This one’s a redhead!” Then everyone turned and looked at me—I, too, have red hair—and laughed. I was tempted to point at the screen, and say, “That’s my mom,” or something. But I felt compelled to play it straight in those days.

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Marla Jo Fisher is a staff writer, blogger, and columnist for the Orange County Register.