Calgary welcomed the Earl of Sport

The University of Calgary football team was treated to the antics of one of sports’ most exciting, enthusiastic broadcasters this week.

Van Earl Wright made the trek from the sunny, warm confines of his Manhattan Beach, CA., home to the frigid Canadian spring for the Dinos Fifth Quarter Dinner.

“Back home it’s 75 degrees all the time,” drawled the Atlanta, GA native. “Here it’s –14 and whether that’s Celsius or Fahrenheit that is damn cold.”

A 17-year veteran of the sportscasting game, Wright waived his regular appearance fee–rumoured to be in the $20,000–$25,000 range–to carry on the great tradition of keynote speakers at the Dinos’ annual fundraiser. That’s something he attributes mainly to the persuasiveness and persistence of one man: Sports Information Director Jack Neumann.

“I’ve never met a man more committed to his job,” laughed Wright. “Every day I’d get to work and there’d be an e-mail from Jack. ‘How you doing Van Earl?’ ‘We’re all really excited about you coming Van Earl.’ ‘Is there anything else we can do for you Van Earl?’ This guy is one of the best SIDs I’ve ever met. I’m just glad this day is finally here so I can stop getting his emails.

“Although I’m sure when I get back they’ll be a few messages saying ‘Thanks for coming Van Earl.’ ‘Was everything alright for you Van Earl?’ ‘We really appreciate you coming Van Earl.'”

At the press conference at Spulombo’s, Wright was given the quasi-legendary White Hat and dubbed an honorary Calgarian by original Fifth Quarter Dinner organizer Al Bailey. It was an honour the 39-year-old accepted with his usual combination of grace and hilarity.

“I think I need a bigger chapeau,” he joked of the initial offering. “Us television guys have got big heads.”

Grateful for his first trip to Calgary, Wright admitted there’d be one thing he’d have to adjust to if he ever landed a job north of the 49th parallel.

“I just don’t get the whole curling thing. To me it seems like a cross between shuffleboard and bocce,” said the Fox Sports anchor. “It’d take me at least a year to get a handle on what the deal is with that.”

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