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Territorial Cup weekend and why I owe Jake Plummer a beer

I owe Jake Plummer a beer.

As someone who has been in the sports journalism
profession for a while now, there are few times I’m left
pretty much in awe of an athlete I talk to. However, my
chance meeting with Jake Plummer over the weekend did
exactly that.

You see, earlier in the week our own Doug and Wolf
interviewed Plummer, and at the time I couldn’t help but
think that the former ASU and Cardinals QB seemed to have
a good head on his shoulders and was someone who, to be
honest, was amazingly content with his life.

I wrote a story and left it there, figuring no more would
come of it. I was wrong.

Spending Territorial Cup eve in Tempe amongst friends (who
just so happened to be ASU fans), Plummer walked into the
bar we were at and stopped to chat for a bit. The
conversations ranged everywhere from ASU athletics
(Plummer had no idea I was a Wildcats fan, more on that
later) to life in general.

Paying attention to every word, everything Plummer said
made sense, much of it in a “wow, I hadn’t really thought
about it that way” kind of way.

Jake offered to buy a round for everyone, talking about
how he is 36 and retired so it wasn’t an issue to pay for
a few drinks. We all thanked him, and then he realized I
was wearing my Arizona hat. Oops.

Telling him I was also a Cardinals fan, Plummer joked that
he wouldn’t have bought me a beer had he known where I
went to school. We chatted a bit about the rivalry – this
year’s game, especially – and agreed that we just wanted
to see a good game Saturday evening.

Now, maybe that’s because I expected the Wildcats to lose
and just hoped it would be mildly entertaining. Naturally
I’d love to see the ‘Cats destroy the Sun Devils and
leaving little doubt or time to worry about the outcome.

Regardless, it was certainly interesting to discuss the
rivalry with someone who had actually played in it.
Plummer was complimentary of Arizona QB Nick Foles, saying
“he can really wing it,” and really didn’t seem to have
any hate for the school.

Maybe that’s the benefit of having made a lot of money
playing in the NFL, retiring in your 30s and living a life
out of the spotlight. He knows that no matter what happens
in the game life does go on. And let’s be honest here, if
we’ve learned anything over the last few weeks in college
football, the fact that there are more important things in
life than football has to be at the top.

I’d like to think I already knew that.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m stoked the Wildcats pulled the
upset. Saying otherwise would be a lie, as the last couple
days have certainly been better because of the game. That
is my school, you know.

But as Plummer seems to have learned, everyone who has an
interest in the “Duel in the Desert” is a sports fan at
heart, and that’s a bond we all share, regardless of what
color you were wearing at the game.

And maybe that’s the most important thing I can take away
from the weekend. Besides, of course, a win for my alma
mater, a year’s worth of bragging rights and a really old
cup.