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Colin Cowherd finds intersection of sports and politics with Donald Trump

Recently when were moving, I found one of those 8 x 10 color photographs you used to get for a decent price when you attended a Las Vegas show. This one was from the old Las Vegas Hilton.

It was taken at the Benihana restaurant. In the picture, about two dozen Las Vegas sports media guys are gathered around the grills. The TV guys all have nice smiles.

As I recall, there had been a bunch of big fights in town at the same time. Julio Cesar Chavez and some other guys. The people at the Hilton wanted to thank the media for running all over town by treating us to a fine meal after all those free lunches. The media accepted the hospitality. There may or may not have been a free cigar. Las Vegas was different then.

Colin Cowherd was one of the guys in the picture.

That’s all he was then. One of the guys in the picture. He didn’t have an opinionated talk radio show that was simulcast on national TV. You didn’t love him or loathe him. He was just Colin, one of the TV guys, and when you went out with him chasing girls, sometimes he paid. Sometimes you paid. But when you went out chasing girls with Colin Cowherd, he was the one who usually caught them. He was the one on TV.

Cowherd was sports director at KVBC Channel 3, but he had gotten his start selling advertising for the Las Vegas Stars — and by doing play-by-play when team president Don Logan thought nobody was listening.

Colin Cowherd was on TV again on Monday.

He was interviewing presidential hopeful Donald Trump.

Monday was the first time I watched Cowherd’s new show, or at least the one he is doing on Fox Sports 1.

In his opening segment, he defended Mets manager Terry Collins for staying with Brian Harvey in the top of the ninth against the Royals; said Miami’s crazy lateral victory over Duke should be overturned because the zebras missed four calls during the crazy laterals; said a TV network should not be fined when a “boob falls out of a dress at halftime.”

A little graphic in the top left-hand corner of the screen counted down the time until Donald Trump would come on. It said 2 hours, 17 minutes. Colin’s blonde sidekick read the sports news and sort of made her lips look pouty.

When Donald Trump finally came on the telephone line, he and Cowherd spoke for about a half-hour.

Ballplayers from the Dominican Republic were not discussed; neither the host nor his guest said anything that would cause one to get fired, or get one moved to the end of the stage for the next debate.

Was Cowherd lobbing softballs? Maybe one or two. But he also cited statistics about the economy and suggested to Trump that perhaps President Obama, and all presidents, get a bum rap.

Trump respectfully disagreed. He said you want a great leader, Tom Brady is a great leader. Trump said he played golf with Brady.

Trump went off on Iran and China tangents; Cowherd said “uh-huh” or “hmmm.” Cowherd tried to bring it back to sports. Trump bragged about buying Turnberry Resort in Scotland, where Jack Nicklaus and Tom Watson once had played a great British Open.

When it was over, Cowherd said something to the effect of there you have it, almost apologetically. He said he did not know enough about the tax code to discuss it with Trump.

I thought he did a good job. It wasn’t like when he tried to interview Jim Harbaugh before Michigan started its football season and Harbaugh did not care to be interviewed.

Cowherd tried to make some news at the end. He tried to pin Trump down on a running mate, should he win the GOP nomination. Running mates are easier for us sports guys to understand than the tax code. Trump would not be pinned down.

It wasn’t exactly like Geraldo Rivera standing in front of an empty vault that once belonged to Al Capone. It wasn’t exactly like a boob popping out of a dress at halftime, either.

I thought Lenny Dykstra’s revelation on Cowherd’s show last week — that Dykstra compiled a dossier on the tawdry affairs of umpires that helped him lead the league in walks — was profoundly more interesting.

Before Trump came on, Cowherd showed a picture of him dressed as Jim Harbaugh for Halloween. He said Harbaugh had seen it and had posted something complimentary on his Twitter account. Harbaugh said they were friends again.

Cowherd said he really didn’t care if his listeners loved him or loathed him, so long as they were listening. But he said he wanted big-time coaches like Harbaugh to like him.

He sounded just like the Colin Cowherd I once knew, the one in the free picture from the Hilton.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski

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