[^ Which one is the bass fisherman lol!]
What can I say about don. Here's a few things:
- I love the guy. Heart of gold.
- He's very smart, smarter than he'd even admit.
- He's a fighter but also soft-hearted. (Could say that about many bassin' dudes!)
- He loves Buffalo, NY, and not for the wings or smallmouths which is crazy but there you go. 😂
- He was VASTLY overqualified for a gig in bassin'. All that means to me is: God put him here.
- He was a city-type outsider who became loved by bassin' folks. How often does that happen.
- Unlike almost all the ESPN-era B.A.S.S. folks, he stuck around. Says something about him.
- Like I've said before, in my 2c he's the best writer about bassin' peeps we ever had. He created a thing we'd never seen before – and now, speaking for myself, I already miss it.
- I do believe he's irreplaceable and belongs in the Bassin' Hall of Redneckian Heroes (that's a hint Bowman, Mazurk, etc!).
Always impossible to do anyone justice in a Blaster, but that should give you a flavuh flave of don. Here's 5 with him:
1. Was bass fishing the strangest trip you've ever been on? [Context: don has seen and done some incredible stuff.]
> "Wow...that's a good question. I don't know if it was the strangest, but it was certainly the most fun.
> "I had never heard of it before [ESPN] sent me to it. They spelled it out – I remember sitting in the office and them telling me they were sending me to B-A-S-S. I thought I was going to cover concerts...bass guitars....
> "I wouldn't say it was wild – it was a learning experience. It was going to be all or nothing, simple as that. I know that B.A.S.S. didn't want me and that ESPN wanted me [at B.A.S.S.]. And so that's how it began. I was told up front, 'You're supposed to bring a lot of [website] hits – we'll see about that."
2. When you showed up on the scene, I gotta say you looked kinda mad, like you weren't happy to be there or maybe you were ready to beat someone up for talking you into this. 😁 What was up with that?
> "That first event was the Bassmaster Classic, in SC, Columbia. I didn't know what a Classic was. Normally...ESPN would show up and everybody would be nice. They would want us there. And for the most part, we would sort of be in charge.
> ...thank God for Kevin and Kerry Short, the Kennedys, the Iaconellis...people I had [already] met...other than those 6 people and Skeet, nobody was friendly to me. At all. I get it, I understand, okay here's the big shot at ESPN, let's see what you got. Okay fine."
[In fairness, don looked like he was ticked off so...🤷🏻♂️]
> "I don't know who it was...came up to me and said, 'I don't know how you can cover this sport and you don't fish.' I said, 'Not only do I not fish, I don't even like the outside! But I covered the NFL for a decade and a half, and no one asked me to suit up....'
> "I said, 'When fish read, I'll write for them. But I'm going to cover the other end of the pole.'
> "...wasn't with open arms...but it ticked me off and made be better. It made me earn everything that came after that."
3. What was the biggest surprise or revelation for you about bassin'?
> "The athletes who do it. I thought I was going to cover a sport where a bunch of guys sit on a dock and the first guy who catches fish gets a case of Budweiser.
> "I've never been around athletes like these. I lived with 2 of them [Shaw Grigsby and Paul Elias]. They'd get up at 4:30 in the morning, be out at first safe light, and fish til it was dark – and that was just practice!"