Erin Andrews Returns to Toe Sideline Between Reporter, Vixen
RALEIGH, N.C. – Erin Andrews had to feel better about her performance than Steve Spurrier, and his team won.
South Carolina beat North Carolina State 7-3 in a stinker of a game. At least it smelled like a hamper full of used socks. I didn't see much of it because I was busy watching Andrews.
For the first time in weeks somebody can say that without being called a pervert. Andrews was back on the sideline, and it had to feel ... well, I wish we knew.
She is only talking to Oprah about her video victimization. The show's already been taped and will run next week. Andrews said it'll be the first and last time she addresses the topic.
We won't know what she was feeling Thursday night, but it had to be awkward, frightening, liberating and hopefully cathartic.
We've all had those freaky dreams about being naked for the whole world to see. They supposedly indicate feelings of vulnerability and guilt. What must it be like to have that dream come true?
I would have felt that at least 56,000 of the 57,583 people at Carter-Finley Stadium had seen me naked. The rest have never heard of the Internet.
It must be infuriating to Andrews because she's guilty of almost nothing. I say almost because she never exactly pooh-poohed her Sideline Vixen image. That obviously didn't give a sicko fan the right to drill a hole in a hotel wall and cast the video onto the Internet.
Inwardly, we don't know how much scarring there has been. Outwardly, Andrews looked pretty much the same.
It was too much to hope she'd show up dressed like Mother Teresa, but it would have poked some needed levity into the situation. Instead she wore dark brown tights and a sleeveless vest and blouse get-up.
Her famous mane certainly hasn't lost a step. It looks like Farrah Fawcett left her hair to Andrews, who fluffs it up about 18 times a minute without even thinking. I don't usually devote so much space to these things, but we are talking TV. And you may have heard that looks matter.
It goes both ways. I got on the elevator with Jesse Palmer before the game, and I could feel every woman on board swoon. I'd like to think it was for me, but I never starred in The Bachelor.
That show only enhanced Palmer's career. If his sideline colleague did The Bachelorette, she'd be called a Jezebel. It makes for a lose-lose situation for people like Andrews.
When they play up their looks, they're manipulative flirts. If they don't do a little flaunting, they end up doing the weather segment in Pocatello . Andrews has walked the line well enough to be respected by her TV peers and ogled by millions of frat boys.
I wondered if one would show up Thursday night with a freshly-burned DVD for their heroine to sign. There wasn't any interaction with fans, perhaps because they were busy watching NC State not score.
If the offenses weren't in mid-season form, Andrews was. Throwing a couple of easy questions at coaches as they leave the field isn't exactly "60 Minutes," but at least Andrews does it well.
She kept her composure when Tennessee basketball coach Bruce Pearl groped her while demonstrating defensive techniques. The only thing Spurrier was left groping for Thursday night was some offense.
He did the requisite post-game interview with Andrews. They were quickly surrounded by about 50 other reporters and cameramen. Then Spurrier trotted away escorted by three South Carolina State Patrolmen.
Andrews trotted away followed by a Raleigh policeman, a Secret Service-looking guy in a suit and two more guys wearing ESPN vests. She stopped just long enough to pose with a local photographer and pack up a big red purse.
The security bubble moved quickly up a tunnel. I followed, not really sure what to say. I considered telling her that I was a producer from the Oprah show and had a few follow-up questions.
Like what the heck is going on with the investigation? And will you swear on Chris Berman's comb-over that this whole video scandal wasn't just a publicity stunt?
I can't believe any sane woman would willingly subject herself to what Andrews has been through. And Andrews has never appeared to be crazy.
She stopped at the top of a ramp and got a transportation cart with the Secret Service guy. It was my chance to play Bill O'Reilly, but I pretty much choked.
"It was good to see you back," I said.
"Thank you," she said. "It was good to have something else to worry about."
Like simply doing her job.
With that, Andrews was whisked away to some un-named hotel. We won't know what she dreamed about when her head finally hit the pillow.
We do know she deserved a good night's sleep.