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July 18, 2011
Too Much Research

During the 2006-07 NBA regular season, the Hornets played a total of six home games in New Orleans. It was part of the organizations post-Hurricane Katrina transition back to Louisiana, which would take place on a full-time basis in 2007-08. Well, during one of our trips to New Orleans for a game in December 2006, one of my colleagues introduced me at a restaurant to a handful of members of the Saintsations, the cheerleaders for the NFLs New Orleans Saints.

A few weeks later after we were back in Oklahoma City, the same co-worker (Ill let him remain anonymous) walked over to my desk and showed me an article from the popular mens magazine FHM. There was a FHM feature in that issue titled The NFLs 10 Hottest Cheerleaders. Pictured among the group of females was a New Orleans Saintsation named Stacey.

Dont you recognize her? my co-worker asked me. She was one of the people we met when we were in New Orleans.

Fast forward a few months, to the summer of 2007. The Hornets were back full time in Louisiana, making preparations for the 2007-08 season. In July, I was given the assignment of writing on Hornets.com about Honeybee auditions, which were taking place in downtown New Orleans. As we all probably recognize, coverage of NBA dance-team tryouts is probably most effectively executed by heavy reliance on video and photos not with written articles but I digress.

Either way, my philosophy on writing is that if Im going to cover something, I want to do it well as possible. I dont want to just throw together something that reads like a press release, or something I couldve written without even attending the event. I was seeking what writers call an angle, some unique way to make the 2007-08 Honeybee tryouts more interesting to a reader.

I remembered that Stacey the same Stacey whod been a Saintsation and appeared in FHM was among the women trying out for the Honeybees. I thought it would be interesting to mention in the article that Stacey was an example of how women in New Orleans are forced to choose between trying out for either the Saintsations or the Honeybees you cant do both, because the NFL and NBA seasons overlap.

Unbeknownst to Stacey, I knew all of this background information when I showed up to Honeybee tryouts that July afternoon. When I saw her after shed been selected as a new member of the Honeybees, I introduced myself again and started interviewing her for the article I was writing on Hornets.com.

So, youre a former member of the Saintsations, right? I asked her.

Uh, yes, she responded, somewhat cautiously.

You were one of the NFL cheerleaders in that FHM feature too, right? I followed up.

Um yes, I was one of them, she answered, with a puzzled look on her face. Wow, she said to me, you really did your research, didnt you?

Anyone who had witnessed this exchange probably wouldve burst out laughing on the spot. She didnt mean, Wow reporter guy, Im impressed with how much research youve done for this article. It sounded a lot more like, Wow, thats actually pretty creepy that you know that.

Needless to say, I was extremely embarrassed.

If only that was the end of the story

In one of the strangest coincidences youll ever see, in that exact same Hottest NFL Cheerleaders FHM article, the cheerleader representing the Buffalo Bills was a woman named Amanda Phillips. Amanda is a native of Geneva, N.Y., my birthplace and the city where I had worked as a newspaper sportswriter (prior to being hired by the Hornets in 05). She was also a waitress at a sports bar I frequented in Geneva. I didnt know her personally, but it was common knowledge that she was a cheerleader for the Bills.

Shortly after Id seen the FHM article and recognized her in it in December 2006, I sent a brief e-mail to my former newspaper, the Finger Lakes Times. Trying to be helpful, I wrote to one of my former editors, Hey, did you guys know that Amanda Phillips, who graduated from Geneva High, appeared in a recent national FHM feature?

The Finger Lakes Times eventually wrote a nice article where they interviewed her and discussed how exciting it was for her to appear in FHM.

A few months passed, so I pretty much completely forgot about the whole thing. In the fall of 2007 though, I was visiting upstate New York on vacation and went to the same sports bar in Geneva I always visited to watch NFL games. As I sat down, I saw Amanda standing on the other side of the restaurant.

She tentatively walked over to my table, where I was sitting with my brother.

Uh, she said, seemingly choosing her words carefully. Are you the guy who e-mailed the newspaper about the FHM article I was in?





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