I’ve known three significant showman promoters in my life, Tex Rickard, Buffalo Bill Cody, and Leon Rice. The former promised that if fans would pack Madison Square Garden to the gills for the second Tunney-Dempsey tussle, he’d shake the hand of a Swede. The fans did, and true to his word, Rickard shook the hand of a Swede (but later contracted Swedish influenza...not deadly, but it certainly ruined his evening). Of course you’ll recall that Mr. Cody promised to eat a live chicken—feathers and all—if he sold out his Wild West Show in Billings, Montana in 1914. The outset of World War I caused that show to be cancelled...which of course was a God-send as Cody later found out he had an anaphylactic response to chicken wattle. Finally, rounding out my top 3 is Boise State’s youthful roundball skipper Leon Rice...surely a descendent of my good friend Grantland (great-uncle, perhaps).
Intrepids will note that earlier this year Mr. Rice forged the mighty Boise River after fans of the squadron packed the arena for a battle against a club from San Fernando or some such. I hear Rice nearly died of cholera after the trek, which took him no less than 2 weeks and cost him the great toe on his left foot—still, he returned to the court as soon as a boot would accommodate his swollen digits. And would you believe that Rice is back to his showman’s ways and has pledged to mount a horse (non-stuffed) and ride it the breadth of the university’s campus if fans will park their collective keisters in Boise’s famous Taco Bandito Coliseum for a tap-off against Las Vegas’s formidable Rambling Rebellion?
I say this berg should answer his clarion call and place him high upon the saddle, where he can clip-clop past his admiring subjects astride a noble steed. Show him who really runs this town (and it’s not that fellow Bieter who I suspect is a Spaniard). Seeing Rice assume the place of the erstwhile Hoot Gibson would sure be something—a sight folks in this town haven’t seen since Pokeford “Pokey” Allen rode down Broadway (not the one in New York, I’m told) and into lore. Tickets are in short supply, but you can still purchase one for just $16.00—sure, it’s a full day’s wages...but more than worth it to see equestrian derring-do. Hot dog!