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Peyton Manning’s 2001 Las Vegas visit included lesson in manners

When Peyton Manning officially retired last week, a lot of people were telling stories about him on the Internet, and telling shorter stories on Twitter. About having met him somewhere by happenstance, and having had a pleasant interaction with the most affable of pro quarterbacks.

Michael Campanella said he was a chef at Westward Ho in 2001 when the ESPYs were in town, and that he and wife Lena were in the Rum Jungle in Mandalay Bay, when Rum Jungle still was trendy and before it received an eviction notice.

Mark McGwire was in one of the VIP booths, and Campanella asked for his autograph. Campanella said Big Mac sneered at him, as if he were a pitcher who wouldn’t throw inside.

Campanella, who now owns a local garage door repair business called All-American Repairs, said other star athletes were seated in the booth.

“Here, I’ll sign for ya,” one said with a folksy Southern accent.

It was Peyton Manning, Campanella said after doing a Peyton Manning impression, and he couldn’t have been more accommodating. Manning signed his name — on a day planner sheet, because that’s all Campanella had with him. This was before cellphone selfies.

So the Campanellas became huge Peyton Manning fans, and instead of going on romantic getaways and such, they would go on getaways to watch Peyton Manning play football for the Colts, at the old RCA Dome in Indianapolis and other places.

As for getting sneered at by Mark McGwire, Campanella said there’s a somewhat happy ending to that story, too. They met later that night, also by happenstance, in the men’s room. Having witnessed Manning sign the day planner, and having witnessed how happy that made the Las Vegas man and his wife, the baseball slugger apologized for being rude and offered his hand.

When I asked if Big Mac had washed it first, Michael Campanella said good question.

HERCULEZ-STRONG PODCAST

Herculez Gomez, the former Las Vegas High soccer star who also played for the U.S. Men’s National Team and scored the winning goal for LA Galaxy in the 2005 Lamar Hunt U.S Open Cup final, is featured in this week’s “Planet Futbol” podcast on Sports Illustrated.com.

“You’ll be hard-pressed to find a U.S. soccer player more experienced in the goings on in Liga MX and MLS and as capable of articulating them sensibly as Herculez Gomez,” the website says.

After being released by Toronto FC of MLS — Gomez says he’s between teams now but a deal is in the works — he talks about the CONCACAF Champions League gap between the Mexican league and the American league, and why soccer uses so many abbreviations.

OK, the last part isn’t true, although it would make for a good topic for a follow-up podcast. You can access the current one by clicking here: http://www.si.com/si-planet-futbol-soccer-podcast

TRUMP LAUDS FORMER REBEL

Let’s see, there probably was his caddie, and then the second person Adam Scott, the former UNLV golfer, appeared to shake hands with after winning his second consecutive PGA Tour event was Donald Trump.

You can see it here: https://youtu.be/iSOD0VNEhmw

You can see Trump applauding Scott with that familiar Trumpian expression, and then you can see and hear Trump applaud a little louder when the name of his son is called out of the public address system at the Blue Monster course at Doral in Florida, which Trump owns.

“I was watching Adam Scott hit that last great shot,” Trump said to the reporters down there. “And I went back and I was watching the news. And every single advertisement was about me. And it was during my tournament.”

Trump mentioned Jack Nicklaus, who designed the course. He also mentioned Trump wines, and Trump steaks and a lot of other Trump stuff.

THREE ITEMS AT THE END

■ UNLV pretty much has distanced itself from Tim Chambers, its former baseball coach who resigned in December after being arrested for driving under the influence and being placed on administrative leave, and so it was nice that school officials acknowledged him publicly during the dedication of the new UNLV baseball clubhouse. They stopped short of calling it “The House That Chambers Built,” but that’s exactly what it is. Were it not for his ties to booster Anthony Marnell III, whose name is on the building (along with Marnell’s wife, Lyndy), it most likely doesn’t get built.

■ This is actually the second UNLV baseball clubhouse. When Fred Dallimore was coach, the baseball clubhouse was an equipment shack down the right-field line, site of the plush new clubhouse. This one wasn’t two stories, and it wasn’t very plush, and you had to be careful not to step on a rake. But after practice, Dallimore would invite you down, and there was a refrigerator inside, and inside the refrigerator were cans of cold beer. And Fred would always offer you one, and then tell you a baseball story.

■ A word of advice to budding sports writers: Choose another profession. The longevity in this one is not so good anymore. Second word of advice to budding sports writers: Do not sit at a table in the Western Athletic Conference tournament hospitality room that includes the following: Former UNLV basketball (and NBA) guy Mark Warkentien, former WAC football side judge Mark Ratner, ex-local referee Bill McGee and former UNLV basketball star Freddie Banks. If you do, there’s a good possibility you may miss your deadline.

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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