So, I’m getting off the plane in Tampa for Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals. I’m excited about continuing our coverage of this amazing Caps playoff run. I’m still on a high from the Kuzy goal to knock the Penguins out. Or, as John Walton so perfectly said, “The demons have been exorcised!” Anyway, I’m kind of lost in my own world.
As I’m getting off the ramp, I see a young kid looking my way. I have my headphones in. I’m probably listening to some old Grateful Dead show on my phone. I’m not really paying attention.
Then he waves. I figured his mom or dad were coming off the plane behind me. Then we lock eyes. He waves again. Now I realize he’s waving at me. I’m a little confused.
But I wave back. I take my headphones off and he says, “Hi, I’m Martin. I recognized you on the plane. You’re the guy from the intermissions!” (Editor's note: Carlin also hosts Caps' pre and postgame shows on NBC Sports Washington.)
We stood and talked for a minute. He told me his dad bought him & his mom tickets to Game One. He’s 10 years old and a huge Caps fan. I took a picture of him with a thumbs up. His mom asks if she can take a picture of the both of us. We do. We shake hands and they start to walk away.
I’m a few steps behind them as I see Martin’s mom give him a little hug. The kind of hug a parent gives their kid when something really cool has happened. I know that hug. As a sports fan and now a parent, I’ve been on both sides of that hug.
I tap them on the shoulder and say, “If you think that was cooler for him than it was for me, you’re crazy!" I was Martin once. I know what it’s like to love your team so much that you even know the TV broadcasters. For true fans, the broadcasters are all part of the nightly experience. I don’t take that responsibility for granted. I’m now a part of a Caps fan experience. That’s the most important part of what I do.
Martin is now doing sports updates on YouTube. He wants to be a broadcaster one day. I hope he makes it. Although, as I told him, I just don’t want him to take my job any time soon.
When we wanted to get a fan’s perspective of that Tampa series, Martin was the obvious choice. We hope you enjoy that Cup run through his eyes.
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