Tag Archive | "2011"

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R.I.P & Tribute to the great Steve Sabol

Posted on 18 September 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

Until 1992, I knew Steve Sabol the same way you knew him. I grew up watching his weekly NFL Films highlight shows, personality pieces and the famed NFL bloopers, which often featured his hosting, narrative and chippy sense of humor. It’s safe to say for any kid like me who grew up in the 1970’s and 1980’s, he had a job we’d all dreamed about.

Over the past 20 years I’ve gotten to know Steve Sabol, and even did two years’ worth of radio every Monday from his Mount Laurel, N.J. headquarters with Brian Baldinger, who literally had a key to the NFL Films building to watch film.

Like every person he ever met, affected or shared some kindness and his genuine love of football and the NFL (and everything it entailed), I’ll miss Steve Sabol greatly. He was such a super nice man and such a fun person to talk about football with whenever we crossed paths.

The first time I met Sabol was at the Metrodome for Super Bowl XXVI, when I shook his hand below the press box as a fan. Once the Ravens came into existence we crossed paths at the Super Bowl each year and often at league events. From 1999 to 2001, I saw him a little more frequently as I got to know and love Exit 4 of the New Jersey Turnpike when I was nationally syndicated on Sporting News Radio.

He was a giant, an original, an icon and a titan in the world of NFL football and how fans consumed it. Of course, that was a legacy left by his father, “Big Ed” Sabol, who was finally (and rightfully) inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year. He just colorized his father’s initial vision of football as a narrative and an ever-evolving story of the NFL.

I interviewed Steve Sabol at least 25 times over the years and he was a regular guest of ours at Radio Row at most Super Bowls between 1995 and 2011.

His final visit to me is captured below from Feb. 5, 2011 and most of the conversation was about his father’s pending nomination for Canton. It was kinda neat to watch it again today because we talked so much about John Steadman as well.

Steve had a stoke four weeks later and never recovered from brain cancer.

About 20 minutes after this interview, his personal assistant approached me about becoming a regular on NFL Films “Top 10” shows and said that Steve wanted me on the shows. Since then, I’ve done a few dozen episodes. Because I’ll probably never win any sort of award in my life and because my Pop would’ve been most proud of me being on those TV shows, it’s the highest “honor” I’ve ever received in my career.

To think that I got a true “thumbs up” from Steve Sabol makes me smile.

To think that through the tragedy with his health over the past 18 months that I never saw him again and got to personally thank him makes me even sadder than the news of his death did a few hours ago.

Hopefully, this chat will make you smile and remember why we all loved Steve Sabol.

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Debate time: The many pros and cons of Baltimore Grand Prix for our city

Posted on 31 August 2012 by Nestor Aparicio

(Originally published 9/7/2011) Like many of you who came downtown – or watched via television or social media from afar – this Labor Day weekend you formed some kind of opinion on the big race through the streets of our favorite city.

The very topic of the IRL and Baltimore Grand Prix has become quite the hot button of civic debate – as it should be, considering the cost, investment and inconvenience everyone who uses the city on a regular basis encountered in the lead-up for a weekend that went surprisingly well by almost anyone’s measurement, especially for an inaugural event with this kind of infrastructure issues and engineering necessities to pull off this whole extravaganza was impressive.

I’ve attended more Super Bowls, Final Fours, etc. than I can count and I can say that what Baltimore did over the last six weeks was “Super Bowl worthy” as far as building a fence around a city and getting the event done with flair and executed with pride.

As usual, this will be a lengthy missive. I don’t have a show to use four hours to give my perspective more color and flavor so I’ll take this space to do it today.

Let me say this from the outset: my perspective is different from almost any of you because I live in the neighborhood directly affected by the race and my business is a direct recipient of any local sports spirit. I know many of the residents and merchants in our area. I was involved in the very early stages of the race when organizers approached me looking for support and then later blatantly lied to me regarding WNST’s involvement.

I have the original feasibility plan sitting on my desk so I’m not an armchair quarterback on this one. I’ve seen it all unfold and these observations are sometimes a tad incongruent because I’m really on the fence about this event and what the goals will be moving forward now that the circus has left town and most of the folks who came to the event seemed to greatly enjoy the experience.

I know this much: many merchants were quietly angry on Friday before the race unfolded and many are still angry because the event was selective in who it benefited. I walked around. I chatted with many of them. The construction project around the city was very real and very costly to many businesses. There were nights when it took hours to traverse the engineering and traffic issues. Most businesses in the city did LESS business throughout the month of August because of the race and even a three-day shot in the arm didn’t offset the losses.

That said, I realize most of you don’t care about the local inconvenience and, quite frankly neither do I when it comes to what is good for the city, but it will be interesting to see if the critics and cynics and many angered local people will be able to embrace this event.

For those of you who have read any of my work, you know my stance on the Orioles’ sick demise is more about the civic bloodletting not only of spirit of Baltimore and the intangible pain of last place – but my beef with Peter Angelos is really about how the Orioles’ atrophy has wrecked the economics of downtown on spring and summer nights.

So when it comes to traffic around my crib, I’d love nothing more than to see major traffic jams 81 nights a year downtown because it would lower my property taxes and raise the quality and standard of my life in Baltimore as a city resident if the baseball team could ever get new ownership and rise from the ashes of this civic abyss.

So to my view there are three headlines that can (and will) be written and addressed here:

1.    Grand Prix declared major success by Mayor Rawlings-Blake, IRL people (that means owners), WJZ (and anyone else who profited off of it and would next year and into the future) and people who attended who had fun!

2.    Great weather and interested crowds create a can’t-miss event every year in Baltimore on Labor Day weekend

3.    Someone needs to do a real study on this because I’m not so sure this was a huge win for Baltimore even though it was kinda neat and fun and loud

Let’s start with No. 1 – those who are declaring a political victory.

No one got maimed. Lots of people came downtown. The weather was stunning for the most part. The event was a massive, massive undertaking and it came off with very few flaws outside of the actual transportation issues that are inevitable when you shut down a major metropolitan’s hub for traffic and commerce and literally use the streets as part of the event.

Everyone around Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake bunkered down in an effort to pull off this event, which would have been a political suicide

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