Fox's joke on fan just plain mean;
His joy was real prize should be too
By SCOTT FOWLER
The Carolina Panthers' most famous fan just got run over by Fox Sports.
It wasn't pretty, and it wasn't fair. Fox Sports did a bad thing to a good man on national TV Aug. 24, and I'm furious about it.
The good man's name is actually Greg Good.But if you know him at all, you know him as "Catman." He sits in a front-row end zone seat at every Panthers home game wearing an electric blue wig and a black-and-blue cape.
With just under two minutes to go in the Panthers-Miami Dolphins exhibition, Good was under the impression Fox Sports was about to give him a new car. The network's announcing team had promoted the free car giveaway on air at the end of the third quarter.
Instead, sideline reporter Tony Siragusa handed Good a toy car.
Good, believing the toy was a symbol for the real thing, said on-camera to Siragusa: "Thank you! Thank you very, very, very much - it's a blessing and a prayer answered!"
But Fox Sports was playing a joke. And it wasn't funny. It was badly planned, poorly executed and outright mean.
Siragusa walked away shortly after the interview, leaving Good bewildered and upset.
"I thought I had won a real car," Good said.
Fox officials debated this issue among themselves Tuesday after I brought it to their attention. Ultimately, all they have offered Good is an apology.
To make things right, Fox Sports should buy Good a car of his choice. The money would never be missed for a network that pays the NFL billions of dollars to telecast games. Fans are the NFL's lifeblood, and Fox just humiliated one on national TV for no good reason.
Good, 49, lives in Winston-Salem. He's a college graduate with three children who works with troubled kids for a mental health agency. He drives a 1991 Chevrolet Astro van with 130,000 miles on it.
After reviewing the tape Tuesday, I believe Fox Sports tried to trick viewers into staying with the meaningless exhibition with its fake "car giveaway."
Said Fox Sports spokesman Tim Buckman on Tuesday night: "As far as we know, Mr. Good hasn't contacted anyone at Fox Sports about this. We would welcome an opportunity to speak to him and offer an apology for any misunderstanding."
Misunderstanding? Who wouldn't have misunderstood?
Let's go to the tape and listen to on-air comments from the announcing team of Dick Stockton, Daryl Johnston and Siragusa while remembering that producer Bob Stenner had ultimate control of this telecast.
With 2 minutes, 37 seconds left in the third quarter, Johnston made the first mention of the car giveaway.
Said Johnston: "Now all you fans out there, you might be thinking, well, the starting units are out, we might change the channel. We're going to do something special to try and keep you here tonight. We're giving a car away tonight."
With 1:56 left in the fourth quarter, the giveaway comes up again.
Stockton: "Someone's going to get a car tonight, Daryl."
Johnston: "Hopefully, Tony has assembled all the criteria, and he's got a worthy selection down there."
Siragusa: "I'm looking. I'm looking."
After a Miami kickoff return, the camera flashed back to Siragusa on the sideline. He was standing close to Good.
Siragusa introduced Good, asked him to scream for the Panthers and then said: "The car is coming in right now. Here it comes. Beautiful. It's white. It's a Porsche."
Then Siragusa handed a small toy car to Good.
Good thought it was a symbol of what he would get later, which is why he looked so happy, he says now.
On-air, Siragusa asked: "Do you have a car?"
"I need a car so bad," Good said. Siragusa also said that Good, who is 6-foot-4 and weighs 340 pounds, would need "oil" or "butter" to fit into the car.
A few seconds later, Stockton returned to the game by saying: "So our lucky fan is going to drive off with a new car. First-and-10 at the 28."
Good is a huge fan. He was part of an exhibit on superfans a few years ago at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He bought Panthers permanent seat licenses on the first day they were available. He has his own bobblehead, which he financed himself.
"It's a limited edition," he said, chuckling. "There are 1,000 of them, and I've still got 600 of them bobbling around the house."
Good still believed he was getting a free car from Fox Sports that night and most of the next day, when he first contacted me in an exultant e-mail.
We are acquaintances. I met him in 1996, when Panthers wide receiver Mark Carrier befriended Good and handed him the football after Carrier scored a touchdown.
After e-mailing Good for details, I never heard back. Curious, I called him Monday.
Good teaches anger management to the troubled kids he works with, and he said he was going to try not to hold a grudge against Fox Sports.
But he believes he was made a fool of on national TV.
I know some would say he does that every Sunday by wearing his Catman getup.
But this was different.
Fox Sports did something bad to Good.
Something unnecessary and shameless.
And an apology isn't nearly enough.
Click here for Part 2 of this story.