Maybe it was Rick's big heart. Maybe he'd never been hog-tied and hooded in front of a couple of hundred people and Joe Garagiola. Or maybe it was my sisters Chris and Janine grabbing his head and jerking it up and down. He nodded yes.
The crowd loved it. When the hood came off, Rick blinked ... then beamed ... then took the mike and flayed us all. He rose to the moment, jumped in with both feet and both ventricles, just as he does on the last page of SI every week. Like when he puked flying in an F-14 for a column in 1999, and when he got trashed by an 87-year-old in a 50-yard swimming race for a column in 2003, and when he mangled six cars trying to soar over them in a monster truck that same year. I looked around the room. At least I wasn't alone. Heart, guts and talent merged had made bridesmaids of us all.
Eight weeks from now, in Salisbury, Rick will receive his 10th sportswriter of the year award. He must need a presenter. I can't, for the life of me, figure out why he hasn't called.