New England fans cheered on the Patriots on Monday Night Football as they enjoyed beers and burgers in front of arguably too many high-definition TV screens. Twenty feet away, Yale football captain Paul Rice ’10 evaded the inevitable questions about the ongoing quarterback competition.
The cause of this unconventional meeting between the NFL and the Ivy League was WYBC’s first-ever live sports broadcast from the Lansdowne Bar & Grille on Crown Street in New Haven last night between 7 and 9 p.m.
Yale Radio disc jockeys interviewed four football players — linebacker Rice, h-back John Sheffield ’10, running back Jordan Farrell ’10 and wide receiver Jordan Forney ’11 — in front of a live audience at the sports bar.
Conversation centered around the team’s upcoming season opener this Saturday against Georgetown, the lingering competition between Brook Hart ’11 and Patrick Witt ’12 for the team’s starting quarterback job — which, as expected, the players said little about — and the impact recent head coaching hire Tom Williams has had on the program.
Yet amidst the relaxed backdrop of dozens of TVs broadcasting an array of sporting events, the players also discussed quirkier subjects: Farrell was asked about inner-team pranks, while Sheffield and Rice, who roomed together last year, jokingly revealed what it was like to live with each other. In accordance with the laid-back atmosphere, Rice wore a wide grin as he watched a Buffalo Bills defensive end bumble his way into the end zone on an interception return for a touchdown during his interview.
“It’s not every day you can [talk] on a radio show,” said Farrell, who said his last memorable interview was for a video by the News that made its way onto YouTube.
WYBC also invited women’s volleyball captain and outside hitter Julia Mailander ’10 and head coach Erin Appleman to talk about the team’s Ivy League title defense this season, while Associate Athletics Director Steve Conn spoke about Yale athletic facilities’ renovations, among other things.
The night began with Cover 2 Sports, a national sports talk show featuring Sam Levander ’10, Michael Dunn ’10 and Ian Halpern ’10 from 7 to 8 p.m.
A revamped edition of Yale Sports Monday began at 8 p.m. with YBC sports coordinator Anthony Brooks MUS ’03 and Sam Purdy ’10. Brooks said the weekly installment of Yale Sports Monday will discuss football during the first half of the show, with Williams and a variety of players attending each week (the Yale coach was unable to make it last night due to a scheduling conflict), while the latter 30 minutes of the program would feature coaches and players from other Yale teams.
“We just try to add something new to the YBC broadcast each year,” Brooks said. “We wanted to add a live broadcast, and Lansdowne seemed like the best fit. Lansdowne wanted to establish a relationship with Yale sports, especially with football.”
Brooks said WYBC-FM, the station’s commercial radio station, had already done promotions with the sports bar, so he already knew the managers. The bar had been in contact with Yale football coaches about a potential collaboration. Plans were finalized about a month ago to solidify the deal.
Forney admitted that while he didn’t know for sure whether the initiative came directly from Williams, he wouldn’t have put it past him.
“I think Coach Williams has done a phenomenal job getting the community and the alumni involved,” he said.
Forney added, referring to the spike in season ticket holders since Williams’ arrival, “It’s his enthusiasm and passion for his team that are going to bring the fans out on Saturdays.”
Although the divide between New Haven sports fans and the Yale community was still readily apparent on Monday, initiatives like this one should help.