Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.
Boomer Esiason takes 72 stitches, earns hockey props
Speaking of Imus (see post below), my Friday newspaper column primarily concerns Norman (Boomer) Esiason, who is approaching the second anniversary of his debut with Craig Carton in Imus' old WFAN time slot.
Boomer reports that he is enjoying the gig immensely, even though it requires rising at 4:15 most mornings, and even though it involves holding Carton's leash.
Two subjects I didn't have room for in the column:
First, Ca-Boom's relationship with afternoon kingpin Mike Francesa, which seems to have improved after a rocky start.
"I don't ever really run into Mike," he said. "It's like two ships passing in the afternoon. But I said back in the early days and tried to make Craig and everybody else realize this: Mike and Chris [Russo] were loyal to Imus.
"Even I was loyal to Imus. I was on with Imus. I had no bone to pick with Imus. And I have no bone to pick with Mike or Fruit Loops. I think one of the best bits we do is when Craig makes fun of Chris Russo. It's classic."
Second, the 72 stitches Boomer took in and around his mouth in a hockey game in Bethpage earlier this month:
"I was standing in front of the net, where all great goal-scorers stand, and they're trying to move me out of the way, which of course is almost impossible. The best way to do it was to take a quick cheap shot and hit me with a high stick.
"I had three or four gashes inside, a lip split open, a tooth got moved to the center of the roof of my mouth. I was in an oral surgeon's chair for about two hours and 15 minutes."
Esiason got home around 1 a.m. that night, and was back on the air by 6:45.
"The NHL commissioner gave me a call, and he validated me as a legitimate hockey player,'' Esiason said. "Everybody in my life thinks I’m absolutely out of my mind, but those people who play with me completely appreciate what I went through and understand exactly what kind of badge of courage that is."
Revenge? "I had to take care of that myself, the next week."
What did you do? "It’s left on the ice. I’m not a big guy who likes to talk off the ice. I let my actions on the ice speak for themselves."
Photo: Joseph D. Sullivan