If you’re a sports fan, you probably heard this afternoon that New York Jets coach Rex Ryan wrecked his red Mustang a couple of days ago right here in the Lehigh Valley.
(In fairness, that particular intersection, on Bethlehem’s Southside, is a busy and poorly constructed piece of work. Speeding through it doesn’t help, though.)
Sports-news website Deadspin was first to break the news.
I imagine the local papers — which continue to cover cops and courts religiously, even as they cut back in other areas — are indulging in a fair amount of wailing and gnashing tonight as they ask themselves how they managed to miss such a buzzworthy story.
Anyway, the Rex Ryan story reminds me of the absolute best famous-person-in-local-car-wreck story I ever heard.
(Disclaimer: I was not in the newsroom to witness this, but I heard it from someone who was. Knowing the people involved, I find it completely believable.)
At a newspaper where I once plied my trade, there worked a dayside editor whose job it was to monitor the local police scanners, keep track of upcoming court hearings and attend to various other cop-related duties.
He was a genuinely kind, intelligent and pleasant guy, but also a touch on the excitable side.
That aspect of his personality came through one day, when a scanner channel from one of the local towns crackled to life with a report: “We’ve got an MVA* at 12th and Maple involving a black celebrity.”
(*”MVA” = “motor vehicle accident,” for those readers not fluent in scannerspeak.)
“A car crash involving a black celebrity!” the editor exclaimed. “Wow. We better get a reporter out there right away” … and sure enough, a reporter was quickly dispatched to the scene.
Unfortunately, our man on the desk had forgotten that Chevrolet produced a mid-sized car called the Celebrity for most of the 1980s.
You can guess, then, how the story ended:
The reporter arrived on the scene and found, not Jesse Jackson or Scatman Crothers or Grace Jones … but instead a banged-up late-model domestic sedan, black in color.
The accident was not in the next day’s paper.