ESPN Zone's Red Carpet Grand Opening Starring Pete Carroll
USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll, center, poses for a photo with New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush, right, and Titans running back LenDale White, left, during the grand opening of the new ESPN Zone at L.A. LIVE JAN. 15, 2009 in Los Angeles. Photo by Stefano Paltera/ESPN ZONE
Just hours after saying goodbye to his quaterback, Mark Sanchez, USC football head coach Pete Carroll walked the red carpet at the grand opening of ESPN Zone at LA Live. ESPN Zone was already open, in fact, that night the place was packed with Kings and Red Wings fans grabbing a bite prior to the game, but that's what they call a "soft opening." Thursday night was the grand opening with the red carpet, bright lights and celebrities.
The biggest celebrity of the night was none other than Carroll. The coach was the center of attention not just because everyone in attendance, especially those carrying cameras and notebooks, were eager to get a quote from Pete regarding Sanchez's decision to make the leap for the NFL, but also because the event was a benefit for his charity A Better LA.
Other celebrities in attendance included former Trojans: Reggie Bush, LenDale White, Willie McGinest, Lawrence Jackson and Rodney Peete. This event wasn't exclusive to former USC stars, athletes like the Angels' Gary Matthews Jr., and former Dodgers Kenny Lofton and Sweet Lou Johnson came out to eat free food and support Carroll.
One celebrity who was not in attendance was ESPN personality, NutriSystem pitchman and leather pant aficionado Chris Berman. Berman was back back back in Bristol, CT anchoring the worldwide leader's coverage of the NFL playoffs. That didn't stop Berman from crashing the party with a few classic rock references and unfunny nicknames via a video greeting to kick off the night.
USC Head Football Coach Pete Carroll, center, poses with the Kings Ice Crew, during the grand opening of the new ESPN Zone at L.A. LIVE JAN. 15, 2009 in Los Angeles. Photo by Tim Hammer/LAist
TV personality Sal Masekela of E! and ESPN's XGames hit the stage to greet an audience that apparently doesn't much E! or XGames. Serving as the opening act for the guest of honor, Masekela used his time on the mic to taunt therival sports network owned sports bar across the street, "I'd hate to be one of those people who are working at that tiny little sports bar across the street because they can't really compete with this place."
Steve Mason and John Ireland of 710 ESPN Radio, which will be moving to the LA Live complex in February, then took the stage to interview Carroll. After a massive ovation, the coach was asked yet again about Sanchez.
Just as he did in his press conference earlier in the day, Carroll expressed his unhappiness with his quarterback's decision. Pete said, "I think he (Sanchez) missed out on an opportunity to do something extraordinary."
One day later it was reported that Carroll called Sanchez and apologized for "the perception of Thursday's press conference."