Watchdog

Neil Best leaves no stone unturned in the world of sports media.

Kenny Albert, living here in Allentown

How the heck did Kenny Albert of Fox and MSG call a football game in St. Louis Sunday and get home in plenty of time to call a hockey game in New York Monday despite a blizzard that paralyzed the Northeast?

Here's how, in what Mr. Albert called his "short" version:

Wanted to try to at least get east...because there aren't a lot of flights out of St. Louis on a normal day, so I figured with the storm, it would be hard to get out Monday once things cleared up. Booked a flight to Baltimore, but that was cancelled.

From 4:30-5 pm, I went back and forth between terminals in St. Louis looking at the departure boards for any flights to an eastern city. I considered Cleveland and Chicago. My producer mentioned "Allentown" the night before, where I once had to land due to high winds in NY, and knew it is an International Airport with big runways.

Noticed a Delta flight to Detroit on the board, and asked the Delta agent if there happened to be a Detroit to Allentown connection. Amazingly she said yes, and that there was one seat available! So, I was able to fly from St. Louis to Detroit to Allentown. The first flight was delayed 40 minutes due to paperwork, so I just made the connection with about 15 minutes to spare.

Landed in Allentown, PA at 11:30 pm...probably one of the only east coast airports still open. The flight was smooth until the last five minutes, when the wind starting affecting things, but it was far from the worst landing I had ever encountered.

Earlier, while I was rushing to catch the flight, I emailed my wife...asking her to call the car service that FOX uses, to inquire about switching my pick-up from LGA (my original destination) to Allentown. Fortunately, an SUV was available - with a great driver! He did an incredible job. The first 45 minutes of the trip from Allentown was smooth. It wasn't really snowing there, and the roads were pretty good all things considered. Once we got onto 78 in New Jersey, things started to get worse. Only one lane in many areas, cars stuck in the snow to the left and right.

Finally, somewhere around Newark Airport, with the weather getting even worse, I suggested to the driver that perhaps we should just go to the Newark Marriott. I called...no rooms available...people sleeping in lobby and in conference rooms. As I found this out, we got stuck in the snow along with a few other cars somewhere on the Newark Airport grounds. Thanks to a gentleman in another car with two shovels, the driver was able to dig out after about 45 minutes.

The next 20 minutes were the smoothest of the entire trip. On the NJ Turnpike, from Newark Airport, past the Meadowlands, towards the GW Bridge...smooth sailing. Hardly any other cars on the road, the turnpike was plowed, and it wasn't snowing.

At this point, I was 15 minutes from home...about to get off at Exit 71 (Englewood, NJ)...in the local lanes of the turnpike). The express lanes were backed up about 3 miles with trucks and cars approaching the GW Bridge. Not many cars in the local lanes until we were about 50 yards from the exit. We sat at a standstill for an hour (!) while I could see the exit off-ramp about 50 yards away. Once we got to the exit, I was home in 15 minutes...after 4 am. A little more than 12 hours after the end of the Rams-49ers game, I was home...and worked the Ranger game last night.

My producer, director, Tony Siragusa, and a few others on the football crew finally got home today (Tuesday afternoon). Thanks to JD, they went to the Blues-Predators game Sunday night, then spent yesterday in St. Louis as well.
 

Tags: Fox , MSG , snow

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