Tuesday, August 28, 2007

And I call myself a Bears fan?

I was looking at an old email from around Easter 2003. I'd been to visit my friend Marriott in Miami and was flying home. The email made me smile, even after all these years. With football season about to get underway, I thought I'd post it here:

Bear with me, this gets a little long.
So I'm flying home from Miami via Atlanta. For various reasons, on the segment from Atlanta to Chicago I'm in first class (yeah, I know, tragic...)

As passengers are boarding, I notice that a few young men say hello to another passenger in my row. I can't see this passenger, because the rows don't line up and he's in the far window seat. I don't think much of it.

As we're taking off, the woman next to him (whom I can see clearly), starts rambling about premiere golf courses in Chicago, and then babbles on about the layout of the Chicago expressway system. It sounds kind of giddy and odd to me. Something's up here. Is this passenger somehow famous? Maybe an athlete based on the golf conversation.

All I can see of him is the top of his head. He's African-American and doesn't look familiar. All flight I wait for clues. As we're about to land, the woman asks for his autograph. Bingo. She asks his number. I don't hear the reply. But I now know he's an athlete on a team sport.

He deplanes in front of me, and I get a clear view. Not overly tall or bulky. Nothing to firmly place him or his sport. He catches me looking at him. I smile. I don't recognze him! I'm feeling stupid. This story is no good until I know who I flew with!

We're walking through the terminal now, and he's to my left, even with me. He has his phone on and his earpiece in his ear. I hear him talking and keep walking.

"Are you from Chicago?" he asks. I look at him. He's talking to me.

"Yes," I reply.

"Where do you live?" he asks.

"The western suburbs."

Now I'm really feeling stupid because I'm in a conversation with this man and I don't recognize him!

"How about you?" I ask.

"I'm in transition," he replies. "I just signed with the Bears about a month ago." I remember it was a big story when the Bears signed someone recently. I wish I'd paid more attention.

"What's you're name?" he asks.

"Haley." OK, I bite the bullet and confess that I don't know him. "And what's you're name?"

"Kordell," he replies.

Kordell. Kordell. I know that name. He's big. But I don't remember any more.

He holds out his hand to shake hands. I look down at my hands stupidly. I'm pulling my suitcase with my right hand. Should I switch? Oh, wait a minute, he's pulling his suitcase with his right hand also. We do a left-handed shake and keep walking.

Someone calls out to him, "Hey Kordell, good to have you here."

He responds politely, then turns to me, "Did you catch that?"

"Yes," I reply. We talk about my weekend in Miami and what he was doing in Atlanta. Someone stops him.

"Kordell, I just wanted to shake your hand, man."

He responds politely, then smiles to me, "Did you catch that?"

"Oh, yeah," I reply. I ask him if he's doing any training now. He says he's doing a lot, staying in shape and resting his neck.

Someone calls to him again. "Hey Kordell." Kordell turns to me again. "How about that? Did you catch that one?"

"Yes," I laugh. "You're really enjoying this aren't you?"

"Oh, yeah." He laughs back. As we're nearing the escalator down to baggage claim, he asks, "So are you a Bears fan?"

"Yeah," I say sheepishly. "But obviously not a big enough fan."

He laughs again. "You did fine."

He asks if I heard which baggage claim to go to. No, I didn't check any bags. We find the correct claim area. I leave him.

"Well, it was good talking to you. Good luck this season."

I rush out to the arrivals area and find Dave. Get in the car. After a minute I ask Dave. "So, who's the Kordell who signed on with the Bears about a month ago?"

"Kordell Stewart. He's the new quarterback. He used to be with Pittsburgh, remember?" Oh. The quarterback.

"Huh," I say. "Well, I just had a five minute conversation with him as we walked through the terminal. Nice guy."

Needless to say, Dave was impressed. :o)
Although, looking back, Dave wasn't impressed for long. Kordell's stint with the Bears ended up not working out the greatest for either him or the team. I think he's retired now.

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