I don't usually mingle with the opposition, but as a "reporter" I am supposed to be unbiased. That's my loophole and I am taking it.
Prior to a Legends Football League game a couple years ago, I had finished doing my coverage of the Chicago Bliss and I almost literally ran into Stephanie Baer of the Omaha Heart. Despite some playful jeering from the Bliss, I had to stop and talk to Baer for a bit.
The Heart was the big underdog against the Bliss, especially on the Bliss home turf, but Baer and the Heart would not hear of it. We talked about that and playing in relative obscurity in Omaha. Baer plays for the love of the game and the fans. She has the mind of an athlete and she works hard all year to stay in football shape.
The Bliss would go on to stomp the Heart 44-0 in the game, which was a microcosm of their bad season. The Heart went winless and even a long stretch of being pointless, but they kept their heads up and never quit. They remained classy in defeat.
I always have had great respect for my hometown Bliss, but players like Baer deserve credit, too. Playing for a poor team in a small market has to be hard, especially with the year-round practices, lack of pay and other constraints of the LFL. Still, there is Baer (and others) not only playing hard, but giving a few minutes to a reporter she will probably never see again.
Thank you Steph Baer. Good luck always.
Stephanie Baer and me in Bridgeview, IL-May 2015.