The year was 2007. Franklin and I had just witnessed one of the ugliest wins of the season against the Lions, but a win nonetheless in a very long season. It would’ve been an otherwise forgettable game except for two events:
1) Brett Favre became the NFL’s all-time completions leader, and
2) Afterward we went barhopping with Bubba Franks
No, Bubba didn’t drive around with us in my Packer Tercel. No, Bubba doesn’t know us from Adam. But he did end up at 3 of the 5 bars we were at that night, including the one-and-only Anduzzi's. And that basically means he was partying with us that night.
A weird thing happens when you see a celebrity in public. First, you can’t help but stare. Are you watching TV, or is this real life? Your brain needs a few moments to process this rare encounter. Then, you deliberate whether you should approach said celebrity and make contact. After all, this might never happen again and you’ll always have that memory and bragging right.
Franklin and I decided not to bother poor ol’ Bubba. He had been having his worst year ever as a pro and was getting consistently booed for uncharacteristically dropping passes all season long. (I think he even dropped a TD pass or two that day.) That last thing he needed was some random bar fan telling him things would get better for him and the Packers, but it sure was an honor to meet him, etc. But what was he doing out at the bars? And just who was he looking for? He was speed-walking around the bars on a mission for something/someone. Franklin and I merely observed (when not gnawing on deep-fried curds and dancing with the local cougars).
At the 5th and final bar of the night, we found Bubba yet again – still pacing around by himself, beerless and aimless. This Ranter had seen enough. I had to know what the deal was.
“I’m going to buy him a beer,” I told Franklin, who was busy playing paddy cake with a blonde in a Santa hat and therefore completely ignorant to my actions.
“Can I shake your hand?” I asked Bubba as he turned the corner. He was surprised, I think, because I was the first person to approach him all night. And he obliged… mostly. He kinda gave me one of those casual slapping of the hands and quickly moved on before I could ask him whether he wanted a Red or a Honeyweiss.
Yes, awkward. Yes, unnecessary. But it was totally worth it because I learned something about Bubba no one would’ve guessed: his hands were really soft! I’m talking baby soft! I turned around to Franklin and announced, “He totally moisturizes!” It was incredible. This was not some afternoon in July when a man’s hands are naturally moisturized without the aid of lotions and potions. This was below-freezing December weather in Wisconsin and this 6’6, 265-lb. gladiator had just been out there in spandex and a T-shirt battling living giants for three hours. You’d think his hands would’ve been bleeding, cracked and calloused – totally not the case.
Now the only thing that bugs me is why would a TE with such soft hands have dropped two TD passes that day? The world may never know, but this guy might.
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