An evening with Matt and Gene
Tonight the BC Club of Atlanta hosted a cocktail party with Matt Ryan and Gene DeFilippo. Thanks to the Alumni office for coordinating the details and our local chapter president Kyla Perfetuo. Big congrats to BC Mike for being the driving force behind the event and for giving Gene a very nice introduction.
Before I get into the details of the evening, I strongly encourage all chapters to organize and push for events like these. We are very fortunate that the ACC Championship is taking place here in our city and that Matt just happened to be drafted by the Falcons, but there are always opportunities like this in major cities. Try to capitalize on any occasion locally and then work with BC to bring some names to your town. I don't know if Spaz expressed any willingness to do these sorts of things, but his recruiting will take him to the big markets of the Midwest, Texas and California. It doesn't hurt to see if he and/or Gene will come and speak with you. And as BC continues to push the "Light of the World" campaign they will need to hold more events like this. So be aggressive, organized and continue to give to BC. Pep talk over.
As for the evening, it was a simple cocktail party for the first hour. Matt and Gene both worked the room while alumni mingled. Then we moved into a seated area. The alumni office showed a short Light the World video, then BC Mike introduced Gene. Gene spoke for a few minutes and then handed things over to Matt. Matt was the star of the show. Gene does this sort of thing for a living. Matt does it even better. Working off the cuff, he gave a short speech with the right amount of humor, modesty, and poise. He understood his audience and what they wanted to hear. I don't want to make it sound like the Gettysburg Address, but I've sat through a lot of canned speeches. And to see Matt handle himself in this way was very impressive. If he didn't have an NFL arm, you could see that he'd be very comfortable in front of a classroom, court room or board room.
After the speeches Matt and Gene both stood for a short Q&A. This was probably the best part of the evening. Like and old comedy team they finished each others sentences and balanced things out. Gene did an impression of Jared Dudley. They told a story together about Matt going to Gene and asking that the football team live somewhere other than Upper during the summer practices. Matt fielded most of the questions. He talked about the difference between college and pros. Admitted that the Virginia Tech touchdown is still his favorite moment and told stories about the NFL. I couldn't help myself and asked a question to Gene. I didn't want to rehash any of the topics where we already knew his answer or try to show him up with any of the things I've criticized him for on the blog, so I hit on the subject that I get emailed about often: ESPN U. I said I get ESPN U but many BC fans don't and I wanted to know what the ACC is doing about it. Gene got into the history of ESPN and how they've always leveraged special events and live games to force the cable companies to carry them. First with the original ESPN and then with ESPN 2. He even said that that the 1995 Duke-UNC game was a critical piece of programing in getting ESPN 2 onto more systems. He then explained that some of the top ESPN folks just met with the ACC about this issue. They are going to continue to push and also hope fan interest puts pressure on the cable companies. In summary, there was no timeline or specifics given, but the powers that be do think getting ESPN U into more homes is important.
After the Q&A wrapped, people mingled and Matt stood patiently for more pictures and autographs. The guy is a saint. He was kissing babies, shaking hands, listening to everyone's stories and fawning questions...and he's and NFL superstar. How many of us would be that patient with nothing to gain?
It was a short, fun night and certainly made me proud to be a BC fan. Despite my differences with how Gene handled the Jags situation, I thank him for speaking to the BC fans tonight. Obvious thanks to Matt. And one more thanks to Kyla and Mike for pulling it off.
[Here are my amateur pictures. Sorry, but the lighting was screwing up my auto focus.]