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RUSH: The sports reporter story. I got people reminding me that I promised to tell you. It was Pittsburgh last year, last football season, Sunday night game, Ravens and Steelers. And whenever I go in for a Sunday night game, I always go down to the sideline and I hang around. It happened to be Steelers alumni weekend, which means that a bunch of former players were in town as guests of the Steelers. They’d had a big soiree on Friday and Saturday night and then Sunday before the game they’re all out there pregame sideline, and they have a little bit of a ceremony, not much. But you had guys, Steelers players from the seventies, Super Bowl teams, from every Steelers team every year. They’re not all there, but a bunch of them were.

So it was a fun sideline. There was a lot of stuff. I was talking to Lynn Swann a lot, and Chris Hoke. Chris Hoke was a nose tackle, played behind Casey Hampton. And I’m sideline two or three years ago, Steelers, and this guy comes out, I knew who he was, I’m a fan. Chris Hoke comes up during the pregame and he told me he enjoyed my show and he listens every chance that he gets and he just wanted to say hi. So I give him a couple of pounds on the shoulder pads, I thanked him and he ran back out to warm-ups.

Now, as a nose tackle, he’s six something and close to 300, maybe a little more. Blond headed guy, good-looking guy, Chris Hoke. Steelers alumni weekend, this past November, I’m sidelined, the guy comes up, starts talking to me. It’s hard to hear down there. You got the music playing, a lot of conversation, guy comes up and starts talking to me. It’s Chris Hoke minus 120 pounds. It took me awhile for this to register. I looked at him and I finally figured out who he was. I looked at him and said, “My God, you look great. What did you do?” And he said, “I just started eating normally.” And he explained to me that he had to eat, in order to maintain that weight, to keep his job, his workout was the refrigerator.

He had to eat five times what the normal human being ate every day to keep his weight up. And I said, “Well, how did you stay in shape?” Weight room. Constantly lifting weights, so forth. And he looked in football shape when he was at 300, but the guy shows up, looked like an Adonis, skinny, jutting jaw, his neck was much smaller, waist, of course. And I had a tough time believing it was him at first because his face had narrowed down, but he told me eating was a job.

It got to the point he got sick of it, and so he got down to a normal weight simply by eating what a normal person eats, that’s what he told me. I would love to be able to try it, but I couldn’t eat that much. I couldn’t do it. I didn’t get into details of what he ate or any of that. But I said, “What did you have pregame?” He didn’t eat much during pregame. You gotta feel light. You gotta be light and fast in the pregame, so you don’t want to load yourself down. After the game, Saturday night before the game, it was a carbo-load like you can’t believe.

Anyway, I’m watching all this, and it’s a Sunday night game so the kickoff’s around 8:30 to 8:40. At eight o’clock is when, if your pregame pass is only pregame, you gotta leave. So it’s about eight o’clock. Now, the Steelers come out and start warming up and the Ravens, too. Everybody is doing their warmups in stages, but the full team, the official beginning of warmups is calisthenics, and everybody is out there. They’re lined up in the order that they must be in.

At that point, there’s no jocularity in the pregame. Before this happens they’re yukking it up and laughing it up and throwing the football around. But that’s when the serious pregame begins. No media is permitted, and I look out there, and there is a woman running around on the field. She’s running around kissing and hugging these players, the Steelers, while they’re in the middle of the beginning of the official pregame, the calisthenics. I’m looking out there and I recognize who it is.

I’m not gonna tell you because the point here is not to embarrass anybody, but I look out there and I recognized who it was. I said, “There’s gotta be a camera crew out there somewhere. She’s gotta be out there getting news.” But there was no camera crew and there was no microphone, and there was no notepad, and there was no pencil. She was just running around hugging people and giving them kisses on the cheek, and it was a journalist! I’m thinking, “Well, I’m gonna start looking at reports on the Steelers from this reporter a little bit differently.”

Anyway, I’ve been promising to tell the story, and if it’s not as big a deal as you were led to believe, I didn’t want to build it up on purpose for that reason. But it’s just a story about journalism and how these people are socializing, becoming close friends — and sometimes even more — with the people they report on. In sports or politics, it doesn’t matter which. The lines get blurred, the lines you shouldn’t cross and so forth. That leads to explanations of who has access and who doesn’t and how they get the access. I’m sure that she just wishing them a happy Thanksgiving. I’m sure that that’s all that was going on.

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