Mario Lemieux, Jerry Rice & Brandi Chastain at a Lake Tahoe buffet
Nothing reveals the true character of a celebrity like the buffet experience. Lining up with the great unwashed masses and waiting to get your food? Trying to pick out the best piece of beef with those community medal claws? By yourself?
Are you kidding me? What’s next? A middle seat in coach!
But that’s what the A-List celebrity golfers at the American Century Championship had to deal with for dinner Wednesday night.
OK, it wasn’t your usual buffet. The lobster tails, crab claws, filet mignons and fancy risotos were piled high throughout a huge ballroom at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe. And the masses they were mingling with were folks with enough money or connections to get to play golf with celebrities.
Still, the concept held up. You can learn a lot about a celebrity at a high-end buffet.
Hockey great Mario Lemieux waded right into the heart of the buffet line, along with everyone else. If you didn’t know his face, you never would assume that the guy waiting patiently behind a family of five for the salad tongs was one of the best hockey players ever. (This is no small thing. Some of the celebs had one of their “people” go up and get their food for them).
Jerry Rice sat a table for 10 in a sparse far corner, only him and the older guy he came with. Rice talked intently on his cell phone and made sure that anyone who came within his zip code got a look that left no doubt this was now a table for two. (Hey, everyone can’t be Charles Barkley).
Of course, no one can be Brandi Chastain. The woman who ripped off her shirt for the World Cup let so many people go ahead of her in the dessert line that you almost thought she was working the event. Chastain’s a little shorter and hotter in person than you’d expect.
There’s no doubt she has a lot of guts. Chastain’s one of only two women in the tournament field.
My favorite had to be Trent Dilfer though. The often maligned quarterback who has just as many Super Bowl rings as Ben Roethlisberger piled a plate high with desserts. And I mean piled. There was enough chocolate on that ceramic to make Star Jones morph back into the old Star Jones overnight.
Then Dilfer turned, all casual and said, “It’s not for me.”
“Whatever works for you,” I shot back.
Yes, someone’s lost their mind and given me backstage/VIP access at the king of celebrity golf tournaments. I’m on the list. Legitimately. I’ll neither confirm nor deny the rumor that Big Ben insisted on getting me past the velvet ropes. TravelGolf.com readers are invited along for the ride.
Next time: What happens when Charles Barkley commandeers Harrah’s biggest bar, starts pouring free drinks - lots of free drinks - and has a little fun with Marcus Allen.
I’d write it now, but Barkley shows no signs of stopping anytime soon. His tee time’s not till 12:30 p.m. Jerry Rice suddenly sure thinks he can dance though.
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