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BASS Fishing Pros Are Athletes, Too!

BASS Fishing Pros Are Athletes, Too! Take a look at Denny Brauer's five back surgeries, Larry Nixon's torn elbow tendon and thumb surgeries, Gerald Swindle's four back operations, Shaw Grigsby's
 

For those still under the mistaken belief that BASS pros are not athletes with physically demanding jobs, this brief narrative X-ray should set the record straight.
   Take a look at Denny Brauer's five back surgeries, Larry Nixon's torn elbow tendon and thumb surgeries, Gerald Swindle's four back operations, Shaw Grigsby's two back procedures, Guy Eaker's two torn rotator cuffs and hamstring repairs, Randall Romig's torn arm tendon and Robert Hamilton's five back surgeries.
   It's hard to know where to begin with Mark Davis. Do we start with his elbow surgery or with one of his two shoulder surgeries?
   You get the idea.
   Davis, the three-time BASS Angler of the Year, has not made a single cast this fall under doctor's orders after September shoulder surgery. It's likely that he won't be 100 percent healthy when the Bassmaster Tour kicks off in Florida late next month.
   "I can't say that I'm not concerned," Davis admitted. "Anytime you have any kind of health problem, there's concern. Fortunately, my doctor is evaluating this thing every two weeks, and he says everything is coming along perfectly. He keeps assuring me there will be no problem, so I feel certain I'll be ready to go."
   Each of these anglers played through the pain and missed a minimal number of competition days. They couldn't afford to take time off for surgery, recuperation and rehabilitation. Unlike other sports, there's no injured reserve list in professional fishing - no trainer or team doctor - no provisional entry slots, like in NASCAR - no teammates for substitution.
   Worse yet, missing even one tournament can put a career in a downward spiral in this era of ultra-competitive qualifying ladders that lead to the sport's most lucrative levels.
   "You have to tough it out and compete. If you don't, you might miss the Classic or fail to qualify for a tournament series," Nixon said. "I needed to take three or four months off last year [for his thumb problem], but I couldn't. You've just got to do the best you can do."

BASSCENTER DEBUTS ON ESPN2 ON JAN. 1

After you ring in the New Year, be sure to tune into ESPN2 at 7:00 a.m. ET for the debut of BASS Saturday, wall-to-wall bass programming from 7:00 to 11:30 a.m. ET. The centerpiece of BASS Saturday is BassCenter, a weekly news show dedicated to the world of bass fishing. BassCenter will profile anglers, uncover stories and address issues of interest to bass fishing enthusiasts. The weekly program will cover the news of the sport that week - from tournaments to new technology. The series will feature a wide variety of entertainment and information, including tournament analysis, bass fishing tips, angler profiles and human interest features.

BassCenter is SportsCenter for bass fishing

The anchor of BassCenter is John Kernan, host of ESPN2's former long-running motor sports news show, "RPM 2Night." Kernan will be joined by BassCenter analyst, Byron Velvick, a professional angler who recently starred on ABC's popular reality show, "The Bachelor," as well as commentators Ken Schultz, the longtime former fishing editor of Field & Stream magazine, and Keith Sutton, ESPN.com's award-winning "Out There" columnist. Outdoor writer Trey Reid provides reports from the field as he covers major events on the BASS and FLW tours.
   BassCenter will be telecast every Saturday morning at 7:00 a.m. ET and updated at 11:00 a.m. ET.
   In addition to BassCenter, BASS Saturday will feature two other new programs: "Loudmouth Bass" at 7:30 a.m. ET and "Bassmaster University: The Ultimate Tips and Techniques Show" at 9:30 a.m. ET

REMEMBERING NO. 3

The recent well-received original movie "3" on ESPN that profiled the life of famed NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt brought back memories for veteran pro Guy Eaker, Sr.
   Eaker, 61 and a 10-time Classic qualifier from North Carolina, met Earnhardt more than 20 years ago after competing against him in the finals of a slalom-type boat race that involved both NASCAR racers and professional anglers.
   "I was able to hold the boat around the tight turns better and managed to beat Earnhardt," Eaker said. "It really bothered Earnhardt to lose that race. You could tell he hated losing.
   "When I got out of my boat at the dock, he pulled his boat around and deliberately sprayed water all over me. My son had to hold me back or there'd have been a fight right there."
   Weeks later, Eaker said he received a call from Earnhardt inviting him to the infield area of an upcoming NASCAR race where he later apologized for the incident. The two went on to become great friends.

SINKING IN

It took several days for the magnitude of his victory in the Open Championship to sink in for Bradley Stringer.
   "At the time, you get so caught up in catching your fish that you don't realize what it all means to your career," the Texas pro said. "Then you get home and start reading different things on the Internet, and, all of a sudden, you're going, 'Oh, my gosh.'
   "And then you realize that you have the Classic made. Everybody's been telling me, 'Wait until you get to the Classic.' I've never even been to one as a spectator, and I'm definitely excited to go and be able to compete."

HACKNEY'S BIG MOVE

In perhaps the biggest news of the off-season, Greg Hackney - the hottest angler on the planet - has joined the Triton Boats pro team.
   The Louisiana pro said money was not his primary motivation for joining Triton. "It's like working for family. I feel like I'll fit in. Plus, Triton makes a great product."

EDUCATION OF AN ANGLER

Reigning Bassmaster Angler of the Year Gerald Swindle has seen numerous examples of his maturation as a tournament pro over the last couple of years.
   One of those examples occurred earlier this season when the opening round of the Southern Open on Lake Eufaula was delayed more than four hours by an incredible fog bank.
   "I just try not to panic in those kinds of situations," the Alabama pro said. "I've learned a lot over the last six or seven years. When there's a fog delay, I used to get in a hurry. I'd look at my watch and think, 'Oh God, I've only got four hours. I've got to catch them all at the first stop.' And that's a big mistake.
   "Now I'm getting a little older and a little wiser. I tell myself to relax and slow down - that I have plenty of time. It's a mental game that you have to set up right out of the gate."
   On that particular day, Swindle's approach worked extremely well, producing nearly 16 pounds of bass in just four hours of fishing.

DID YOU KNOW?

Denny Brauer is the only pro to win four tournaments in a calendar year. In 1998, he won twice in April (on Georgia's Lake Russell and North Carolina's Trent River) and twice in August (at the Classic on High Rock Lake in North Carolina and on the Potomac River in Maryland).

PRO BIRTHDAYS

Kentucky pro Dan Morehead will be 36 on Dec. 22nd, while Kim Stricker of Michigan will celebrate his 34th birthday on Dec. 27th. Former Classic champion David Fritts (48) and Arkansas' Mike McClelland (37) share Dec. 29th as a birthday.

IF I HADN'T BECOME A BASS PRO

Former BASS Angler of the Year Jimmy Houston might still be selling insurance in Oklahoma. Houston isn't the only BASS luminary to give up insurance as a career. Ray Scott gave up his career in insurance to start BASS.

THEY SAID IT

"Did I originally intend to set an image in this sport? No. I've always just been myself; I like to be a little bit more outgoing - a little more flamboyant. I love all of the bass fishermen out here, but bass fishing has been very traditional. I think with myself and some of the other young fishermen coming in, we're changing the face of the sport - the image of it - which is great. I think we're making it more mainstream." California pro Skeet Reese.

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