As I have told you time and again on this blog, the Canespace rules are: (1) You have to show up; (2) You have to stay to the end; (3) You can't by shy. If you follow these rule good things and good luck are bound to find you sooner or later. Saturday was once again one of those times.
After the Spring game had ended and the fans tried to make their way out of the Stadium the traffic was absolutely horrendous. So rather than trying to fight it, I decided to spend some time talking some Canes and some trash with Canespacer Cat5 (Ron) in the parking lot. Little did I know at the time that this would turn out to be one of the best decisions I had ever made.
As Ron and I stood in the parking lot discussing his latest ideas on how and why I should improve and expand the blog we were soon joined by two other fans who arrived at their car that was parked next to ours.
One of the guys, seeing Ron with his trademark Budweiser in hand, asked if he could borrow some ice. As we gave him some ice and a Canespace card and told him about the site we talked and became friends.
Then he introduced himself. Turns out our new friend just happened to be Sam Shields' father [who is seen above with Canespacers Cat5 (L) and 86Cane (R)]. We shared a beverage, chatted a while and the questions came naturally as did the candid responses. Here is our conversation...
Cat5: So how does Sam feel about moving from wide receiver to defensive back?
Mr. Shields: He says he feels like a kid in a playground! He really likes it. Sam has played offense all his life so moving to DB was a big change. But now he says he can read and react; there is less thinking involved.
Sam (seen here with Ryan Hill signing the now famous Canespace limited edition ST#26 T-shirt) told me that he feels that it allows him up to use his athletic ability and make plays. And if he gets the ball on defense, he's gone, trust me, he's gone (for a pick six)!
86Cane: How did you feel about the position change?
Mr. Shields: Coach Shannon called me after he talked to Sam about it (the position change). He asked me what I thought about it and I told him: "If Sam thinks it's OK, if he wants to do it, then it's OK by me." I told Coach Shannon that Sam would probably play Center if you asked him to (laughter all around). He just wants to play and be on the field and contribute to the team.
86Cane: Sam and Shannon have not always seen eye to eye. How is their relationship now?
Mr. Shields: Shannon is a serious guy. Coach Coker was much nore relaxed in the way he treated players and ran the team. I used to joke with Susan at The Miami Herald to ask Shannon if there was a door to get out his dog house. Because once Sam got in there he could never seem to get out. Shannon doesn't forget or let things go easily. That's not a criticism, he's just that way.
86Cane: Sam came in with such high expectations. Do you feel he got a fair shot or that maybe Shannon may have been to hard on Sam?
Mr. Shields: No, that's not it at all. Listen, don't get me wrong, I respect Coach Shannon and understand what he is trying to get done at Miami. I am a fan of the Hurricanes, partly because of Sam, but I have always liked the Canes and I want to see them win and do well. But I don't think the image that some people got of Sam was accurate. Shannon is a good coach but Sam is also good kid and I want people to know that. I won't deny that there were some issues between Sam and Coach Shannon during his first two years at UM but we feel that's in the past. We're moving forward.
86Cane: So does Sam think he has a chance to play or possibly even start at CB this season?
Mr. Shields: Sam told me he is confident that he will get a fair shot at CB and he plans to make the most of his opportunity. I'll tell you this, he's excited again about playing football. The position change may actually help him later on because the more versatile you are the more chances you have to make an impression (on NFL coaches). Coaches want to know that you can do more than one thing and contribute on special teams too (to increase the chance of getting drafted).
Cat5: We all know that Sam has the speed and talent, but tell us what we don't know about Sam?
Mr. Shields: I never played football, but I was a pretty good basketball player. I wanted Sam to play basketball but he wasn't really good at it. He would steal the ball and then miss the easy layup. He was so fast he'd run up on the basket too fast and the ball would bounce off the backboard. So he switched to football and that was his sport. He was always good at football from the first day he stepped on the field. On the football filed, his speed was always his advantage.
As our conversation ended we said goodbye we provided our new friends some Canespace T-shirts and watched them drive away. Cat5 and I looked at each other with some sense of disbelief that we had such and rare and unique opportunity to get a candid, exclusive interview with a player's father.
But that only lasted for a few minutes until our next visitor walked up. Then we immediately started our next interview with WQAM radio personality and UM color comentator Don Bailey.
Yeah, I know what you are thinking, but no, I am not making this up! We talked with Bailey for about twenty minutes and even got him to make a 2009 season prediction, talk about national championships and select his Legends of the Fall for Canespace.
But that was only until the cheerleaders arrived. And yeah, we have the pictures to prove it...