Sports reporter again: Covering the Panthers big win – for radio

There were fireworks after the game, and plenty on the field during Sunday night's NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium. (David Boraks/WFAE)
There were fireworks after the game, and plenty on the field during Sunday night’s NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium. (David Boraks/WFAE)

What a treat it was to cover Sunday night’s NFC Championship Game at Bank of America Stadium, where the Carolina Panthers beat the Arizona Cardinals, 49-15. The win means the Panthers will face the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl, on Feb. 7, 2016, in Santa Clara, CA.

LINK: Jan. 25, 2016, WFAE.org,  “Super Bowl Bound! | WFAE

It was fun and a challenge to report on the game not in text, as I’ve done for so many years, but for radio. As I told a friend: For print, I would’ve been done writing and on the way home by 11 or 11:30pm. But with radio, once you’ve written your script, there’s still audio clips to edit, voice recording and mixing. I’m learning as I go here, and it’s great fun.

LISTEN: Listen to the audio of my WFAE story, with sounds from Bank of America Stadium. (mp3, 3:20)

It’s been a few years since I covered a major sporting event like this one, and it brought all the thrills and horrors I remember. I’m not sure how many reporters, still and video photographers, and assorted producers and announcers there were. But it was easily in the several hundreds. Lots of elbows thrown in the interview rooms, among the cameras after the game – and in the buffet line.

You could get spoiled covering events at a big stadium like this one. They served three meals, and offered a supply of Krispy Kreme doughnuts. (I had one sandwich, at halftime.) Quotes from coaches and players after the game were delivered to print reporters’ seats by an army of Panthers’ assistants. (Not the audio – we had to collect that ourselves.)

Still, joining a gaggle of reporters shuffling onto the field for the final minutes, and the post-game celebration, was exciting.

As you’ll hear in my report, the stadium was roaring – at times deafening. I wouldn’t have wanted to be a Cardinal. Last week, tight end Ed Dickson told me the fans make a huge difference.

“You know, when you got fans like ours that be really rowdy, that give you that extra edge. When you watch (Number) “One” (Cam Newton) play, he feeds on that. And that’s contagious. When One’s playing good, everyone’s playing good. We use that to our advantage.”

He’s on target.

LISTEN: Ed Dickson on how the fans are an advantage and help Cam Newton rise to the occasion. Pre-game interview, 1/19/16. (mp3, 13 seconds)

Meanwhile, you’ve got to love covering Cam Newton. The guy is talented and quotable. It didn’t make my game report, but my favorite quote of the postgame interviews was Cam’s comparison of the Panthers’ development to cooking collards.

Feels like a long time getting here, he said afterward.

“But we still got a long way to go. I’m excited. I’m excited. I said it then, I say it now. It was a process. It wasn’t going to be – what did I say – instant grits, quick grits. It was going to be a process like long-cooked collard greens. You know what I’m saying. And I think those collard greens are brewing right now. You can smell it from a mile away.”

LISTEN to that one here (mp3, 25 seconds)

There’s a reason I’m still reporting, after 35+ years in the biz. I just can’t shake my enthusiasm for the job. Apologies to Paul Simon, but I’m still crazy, after all these years.

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