Last year, I had a most excellent time at the Cal FanFest. So, I was incredibly excited to get back out there and meet the team. Although there were a few hiccups along the way, fun time was had by all!
I took about 120 photos, so I'll post excerpts of them up over the next week. Enjoy!
Let's start, where else, the beginning.
That was the line to enter. For some reason, they changed it up this year. Last year, you just sorta wandered in. Several of the younger players were hanging around the field, signing autographs. Players like Slocum and Vereen, who were veritable no names last year, but important cogs in the team this year.
I was hoping to snag similar autographs while waiting this year, but for some reason they wouldn't let people in early. I even tried to enter from the South Tunnel and got rejected (twice!). That didn't make me feel particularly appreciated! Ai!
You can see how long that line is. There were free burritos and drinks. So, it wasn't too bad.
They put up the new wall posters:
I was getting pretty amped entering the stadium. I hadn't been there since April. It was finally dawning on me. Michigan State, next week! Sick!
We immediately got into a long line with nobody at the front. The rumor was that it was Tedford's line, but nobody was in the seat. I was willing to take the risk, esp. since the line ballooned behind us.
I watched other players wander in while we waited in line. One problem soon became VERY apparent. We knew nobody! I had heard some criticism of Cal getting rid of the last names on the jersey. I didn't really care, because on the field it's not particularly easy to read the jersey name.
But here, where you might not recognize people's faces (esp. with so many new players on offense), the names would have been invaluable. Some of the numbers weren't too difficult:
Ok, that's Mansion. Not too tough. (BTW, I wore my Marshawn "10" jersey from a few seasons ago and wanted to say to Mansion "I got the Mansion Throwback!," but never had the opportunity).
I thought that was Marvin Jones, but wasn't 100% sure. It obviously wasn't Worrell. It is Jones.
And don't take this the wrong way Sean Young, but I didn't know who you were at this time.
So, that was a problem throughout the day. I'd usually say "Oh, you excited for the season?" and if they said "Yeah, it was a long off-season" I knew they weren't a true freshman. So, that whittled it down a bit. But even I have enough tact to not say "Hey, who the F are you????? What position do you play?" Or at least I'd like to think I have that amount of tact.
Perchance The Maharg disagrees.
The line was moving. Yknow, that Tosh Lupoi guy was wandering around. Generally, I like that guy. He's noticeable with his continual wearing of a game-used Tosh Lupoi jersey. He seems friendly with many of the players. But he cut in line right behind me in the Tedford line. And then he tried to sidle up past me. It was a cut-throat competition between him and I to stay ahead in line. This is Tedford we are talking about, people! My sidling managed to keep him at bay, though. I am a championship sidler.
Finally, the dream!
When we got up there, he had like 15 Sharpies on his desk. I was all "Coach, I'm not going to give you my pen, but if you run out here, you can definitely borrow it." He mentioned that they had actually grab a bunch of pens, because he had broken one previously. I was all "Well, then I'm definitely not giving you my pen!"
We got up to take a sweet photo with him. But then, DISASTER! The security guard who was taking my photo said the screen on my camera had shut off. It was so awkward as he HANDED IT BACK TO ME AND I HAD TO FIX IT. In front of Tedford. I failed at something, in front of Tedford. This is worse than that time I told him I had evicted two grandmothers from their houses.
At least that wasn't, yknow, in front of Tedford. God, that was the most awkward moment of my life. Well, that's not true, I've had wildly more awkward moments. Lord knows I've had some terribly awkward moments. And I tried to battle the awkwardness by calling attention to it with loud proclamations of how awkward the situation was.
Only time will tell if Tedford gets over the awkwardness. I wish him nothing but the best! Good luck, Jeff! Good luck!
Speaking of best, Kevin Riley was there. He was supposed to be sitting next to Coach Tedford. But he literally made it 3 feet out of the gate onto the field before he was mobbed. No joke. And so instead of guiding him to his seat, they just moved his canopy TO HIM!
He didn't have a table to sit at, he just sat in a chair. And note how close he is to the wall there:
And, IIRC, he was standing near the gate and then when they brought a chair he moved forward. So, he was literally fanbushed. That's a good sign. Yes, as others have noted, Longshore was nowhere to be found. I received no reason for it and would like to think positively about it rather than promote speculation. I'd like to think that had he shown up, nobody would have harassed him, but who knows.
While waiting in line for Riley, Jesse Brooks wandered by, so we got his autograph.
So did Devin Bishop (who I met last year and I remember being incredibly nice).
I yelled "Hey, #10, looking great." Seeing my Marshawn jersey, he was all "Right back at ya." That guy is great. He's also injured. I later saw Tosh Lupoi guy signing his cast, so now I know his real name. But it wouldn't be prudent to divulge it.
I shoulda signed his cast as TwistNHook and snapped a sweet shot. But I failed. And I didn't think of that idea until AFTER the second interaction with Devin Bishop. I figured that going back for a *third* interaction bordered on stalkerish. Creepy, creepy stalkerish. So, alas, a great idea was wasted. *sigh*
We finally got to Riley.
Speaking of stalkerish, when we got up to Riley, I said "Hey, Kevin, I've really been loving stalking your Facebook profile. I never knew Brian De La Puente had a sister!"
Maybe now he, yknow, makes it private. But then how will we be able to see photos of him in his underwear. Well, I'm sure AndBears will find a way.
So, that's a good start to the day. I was extraordinarily nervous that I wouldn't have as much fun as last year. But we got into the Tedford line quick. The Riley line wasn't that bad. There wasn't too much negativity from last year (though with Longshore not being there that helped). Although this one guy in the Riley line said he didn't want to get Tedford's signature, because of what happened last year. I honestly told him that was disappointing to hear. But what can one do?
And most of the players seemed to laugh at my jokes. Were they coached to do that ahead of time by Tedford? Most likely, yes. Nonetheless, it stroked my ego!
Look forward to Part II soon. And feel free to tell your stories and put photos in these threads, too. Go Bears!