Donovan McNabb knew that Yardbarker was here in Tampa and wanted to catch up with us to send a video message to his Yardbarker fans. The problem was that his schedule was so packed, it was almost impossible for him to find time to meet with us. But Friday we heard from his team that he would be filming with ESPN from 6pm to 7pm and would catch up with us either before or after the show.
Around 5:30 we went to ESPN's set, which is an outdoor set-up by the water. It was freezing cold! Well, this is Florida, so it wasn't technically freezing, but like a lot of other out-of-towners, we had not dressed properly for the 50-degree weather. There were a number of fans gathered around the set and around 5:45 a commotion arose -- Donovan's car had arrived and he was being walked by security into the set with fans flocking all around him. From there, the ESPN crew took over and got him wired with his mic -- no chance for us to grab him for his video blog. ESPN did some crowd warm-up with him and Eagles fans were representing!
The show started, and we shivered in the cold watching. Donovan looked incredibly composed considering how cold it was, and that his team had told us how little sleep he had gotten because of his busy schedule. The set was encircled by a barricade to keep the crowd at a distance, and everyone was gathered around one side to get the best view. I have no idea if you could hear it on camera, but fans were shouting "E-A-G-L-E-S" and "Donovan!!!" throughout the broadcast. Again, Eagles fans were repping hard! I'm sure he appreciated the love.
As 7:00 approached, we set up our Yardbarker camera in an area that had the worst view, meaning there were no fans there. I stood right at the barricade and waved at Donovan -- he saw me and waved back. When the show ended he walked off the stage and the fans started screaming for autographs, thinking he was going to walk by them on his way out. But instead he walked towards Yardbarker. Immediately the fans rushed over to our area. Donovan's team and the Yardbarker crew formed a security buffer to protect me and Jeff, who was operating our camera. I was busy trying to ask Donovan questions without letting the mic hear my teeth chatter, so I didn't know until later how hectic the scene had been behind me. Donovan of course took it all in stride.
After we finished filming, he exited the set the same way he had come in, with security whisking him through the crowd. If you want to see some of the footage we shot, check out Donovan's blog!