Letterman leaves behind a string of great sports moments

col-tbuzz (2)I just spent my very last night hanging out with David Letterman, and I feel like I’ve lost an old friend.

Not a best friend. Like most long-term relationships, Dave and I lost touch for periods of time as my tastes in humor changed over the years. But when we got together, it was like old times. For a span of 33 years, I laughed at his unique brand of humor – jokes so dry they are funny and stunts so stupid they are smart. Throwing watermelons from a five-story tower is ingenious.

Watching the final days of flashbacks at classic moments, it dawned on me just how many were sports-related. From when I first started hanging out with Dave to avoid studying while I was in high school and college to the days when I preferred “SportsCenter” and “The Daily Show”, here are my top five (sorry, Dave, no time for a Top 10 list here) favorite sports moments:

* One of the first episodes I ever caught was when pro wrestler Jerry Lawler, well known in the parts unknown of my native Nashville, slapped Andy Kaufman for throwing coffee on him. This was WWE years before WWE, and Jerry Springer before Jerry Springer. Of course, we now know it was all another classic Kaufman hoax, and an effective one at that. I was hooked for life.

* I didn’t always stick around for the final guest of the night, but if the “Albert Achievement Awards” were part of the lineup, I was turning on the VCR. Marv Albert was a regular guest and always brought along a highlight reel of sports bloopers. Now you can find them on any channel, but the chemistry and commentary between Dave and Marv was hysterical.

* As a lifelong Cubs fan who does a pretty fair impersonation of late, great announcer Harry Caray, I’ll never forget Will Ferrell doing his version on Letterman. He did it a few times on SNL as well, but this one was classic. Even Dave couldn’t help but lose it when Ferrell uncorked his famous “Hey, look at the kid in the sombrero” line.

* Some of the funniest moments on Letterman were the unscripted ones, and none were as off the cuff as sending Dave’s mom to Norway for the 1994 Winter Olympics. The interplay between Dave and his mom were genuine and hilarious as her lack of knowledge and interest in sports were easy comedic targets for Dave’s satirical wit.

* Speaking of off the wall antics, Dave had a tradition of challenging NFL quarterbacks to a bizarre game of throwing footballs through the windows of New York cabs. The two would stand on the sidewalk and take target practice on the moving cabs. Peyton Manning, who was chosen to deliver a line in Dave’s final top 10 list, was near-perfect on the show.

Thanks for the memories, Dave.

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