One of the recipients of the Brees Dream Foundation is the Friends of Scott Foundation (FSF) for all they do helping families battling cancer. I've been blessed to be on their advisory board since its inception in 2001, so founder and president Carmen Delgadillo generously offered me two tickets.
After ensuring I had no pressing work duties at that night's Brewers-Padres game, I offered to my teammate and friend Scott Baird to come with. Scotty B. was hyped because, in addition to being a sports fan in general, he and Brees are members of the same national fraternity.
Me, I'm a member of the fraternal organization Al Tappa Keg and there is free beer at this shindig, so let's grab our blazers and go!
Rancho Santa Fe is about 40 minutes from downtown San Diego and all the wealth must be put into the mansions, because there aren't many street lights or signs. Come to think of it, there aren't many streets, just one seemingly endless trail that somehow leads to a country club. We look for a lot in which to park but all we see is a sign for valet service.
Now, normally valet is an option. At Morgan Run it's the only option. Which is kind of silly when the row of entering cars are Ferrari, Lamborgini, Jetta, Rolls Royce, Cadillac, BMW, Camry. Here's the keys to our chariot, buddy, don't scratch it.
Scotty and I walked the red carpet entering the party on the courtyard. If you've never done this, it's true - it's a carpet taped to the ground and it's red. At the end of it there was a photographer offering to snap pictures of people against a background adorned with the Cox Celebrity Championship logo. Most partygoers declined but Scotty B. and I were like, "Heck yeah!" We smiled and posed like Lamar and Kloie. Although I'm not sure who was who.
The event was magnificent. Food and drinks and an elaborate silent auction, which is where we saw our buddy Daniel Hansen, who was furiously bidding on a signed Aaron Rodgers jersey. Spoiler alert: he lost by ten bucks and I told him the bright side was that now that $410 could go to, oh, food and rent. My man!
As we're mingling and cradling our cups of Coors Light - in Rancho Santa Fe, this is an import beer - two constellations came as if falling from the sky. One was the greatest wide receiver of all time, Jerry Rice, and the other was Super Bowl and league MVP Drew Breesy. They didn't walk in together. That may have been too much star power for the human eye to behold.
I grew up watching and admiring Rice, the San Francisco Treat, and definitely wanted to take a picture with him. And if I couldn't take one with him, I'd take one of him. So I went into stalker mode and as fan after fan rushed up to Jerry, I figured a candid was better than nothing. Jerry eats a steak sandwich. CLICK. Jerry orders an imported Coors. CLICK. Jerry stares at Rollie Fingers' handlebar mustache. CLICK.
Then the other constellation, Drew Brees, saunters in and Scotty B. loses his mind. I mean, loses his freakin' mind. "Let's go, let's do it, let's meet him!" Alright, Scott, whatever you say, but he's headed this way so let's just stop and ask him for a picture.
We do that. Brees is regaled in a shimmering silver blazer, black button-down shirt, and black slacks and a smile that can heal the world. Now, if there's one thing I've learned is even the coolest celebrities who are approached every five seconds for autographs, are surprised by a pair of hooks. They just don't see it every day. Some are taken aback. Some probably think I'm a military veteran, which I'm not, but I'm not going to tell them that unless they ask.
Heck, in junior high I used to tell girls I lost my arms rescuing my dog Boo Boo from an oncoming car. I never had a dog named Boo Boo.
So Brees sees my hooks, never hesitates, grabs it and pats me on the shoulder. I ask if he'll take a picture with us and he magically says, "I'd be happy to", and Scotty hands my camera to a nearby "Turtle" - you know, every celebrity has a lackey nearby like Vince had Turtle in Entourage. This is not an easy transfer because, well, Scott's hand is shaking.
Credit Scott, though, he composed himself, gave Breesy their secret fraternal handshake, and starts chatting about Sigma Chi or something. Brees was earnestly into it. Me, I was staring down Jerry Rice nearby. I see you, Jerry.
Brees was awesome. I thanked him for his work with FSF said God Bless and his thank-you was genuine. Scotty's hand was still shaking.
We moved on to Marshall Faulk, who told me, "Picture? Uh, yeah, let me go take care of this thing right quick." So I waited. And waited. Saw him come back to our area but was not going to ask him twice, and waited some more. We made eye contact but Marshall either forgot or just didn't want to do it. Fine. I'll go look for Jerry Rice.
We see a few other athletes - Lorenzo Neal, Andre Reed, Hank Bauer - but I was intrigued by the sight of actor Alphonso Ribeiro. Long known for his role as "Carlton" in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, he is one of Hollywood's funniest actors, I think. Scotty and I aproach him and a Turtle intervenes. He tells me, "Hey, man, Alphonso might take a picture with you but whatever you do, don't call him Carlton. He hates that." He has his hand on my chest, which makes me look at this Turtle like he has just lost his marbles, and I respond, "Come on, bro, that's not my style."
So after a couple "Mr. Ribeiros", Alphonso sighs....he did NOT want to do this...turns around and I say, "Hey, man, I liked your work in 1993 with Michael Jackson in those Pepsi commercials." Suddenly, Carlton, I mean, Alphonso, grins and says in a deep voice, "Thank you, my man, how 'bout a picture!" GRIN. CLICK. LIKE. I gave him a business card, which he'll never use, but that's cool, he was very patient as I struggled to remove it from my shirt pocket.
The night ended with Frank Caliendo doing an outstanding routine on stage - see this guy do stand-up, it is terrific - and then suddenly I saw him nearby: Jerry Rice. You've evaded me all night, Jerry, perhaps because you still look like you could play. Come on, Scotty, we're going in.
We brushed past the gaggle of ladies talking to #80 and asked him for a pic. He quickly obliges. One of the nearby ladies - Real Housewives of Rancho Santa Fe? - stops us and tucks in part of my shirt. That wasn't awkward at all. GRIN. CLICK. LIKE. Mission Accomplished.
As the event winds down and a band starts to play, the Padres game is put on a giant projector screen. This is great! Ninth inning, 0-0, Pads load the bases and The O-Dog, Orlando Hudson, hits a screamer to right. PADRES WIN 1-0! Me, Scott, Daniel and the entire crowd....ok, three other people...roar in unison.
What a fantastic way to end the night. I see you, Jerry.