HOTW - CardinalBlood
If you turn on Discovery Channel, you’ll more than likely see a great white shark swimming off the Great Barrier Reef or a lion stalking the Serengeti and the animals will appear perfectly at home in their natural habitats. And if you go to the Coliseum on Game Day and you see a bearded gentleman adorned in cardinal; shirt, jacket, hat, hanging over the tunnel’s railing, yelling at the top of his lungs for his Trojan footballers, that man will seem like a bird in the blue sky or a fish in water, for he is home within his natural habitat in Section 11. You could call that man Cardinal Blood.
As I was preparing for this week’s Herders of the Week, I was ready to send out forty emails to forty Herders asking for words of praise for Cardinal Blood. But then I realized that I would’ve received plenty of “he’s the best” or “he’s great” but none of those descriptions would have done Blood justice because there is no one more perfect for the Herd than Blood, and conversely the Herd was made for a fan just like he is.
Cardinal Blood is the definition of what a Herder should be. He has a diehard affection for USC, and you’ll find him at a football game, basketball game, baseball game, on his feet, yelling at all times, giving 110% support, and never questioning his loyalties or his vocation as a fan. He loves USC unconditionally and when a Trojan needs his support, he is there without question.
One of the human moments in the tragedy of Mario Danelo’s death was to discover something that we already knew, that Cardinal Blood is one of the best people in the Herd. In an article we wrote after the Mario Danelo tragedy, we highlighted Blood’s service to the Danelo memorial site and how he kept the Herd and other Trojan fans abreast of everything happening in San Pedro in the days after the horrible event. The link is attached: (http://theuscherd.blogspot.com/2007/01/herd-thanks-to-cardinalblood.html) In that article, we wrote, “CardinalBlood of the Herd has been on Point Fermin at the Memorial site on a daily basis to comfort friends and family, to keep the candles burning, to deliver flowers and other tributes. And I don’t want to qualify CB as just a good Trojan, which he is, but the bottom line is that Blood is a very good human being with a big heart. He cares about people, and we in the Herd have to be proud that he is one of us, someone who would take their own time, and keep a candle burning to let people know that Mario is mourned and deeply missed.”
We in the Herd want to be standing with Cardinal Blood in Section 11 yelling at the top of our lungs, and we not only want him there beside us on that railing because he’s one of the best Trojan fans, but because he’s got one of the best hearts out of all of us. For all these reasons, Blood is our Herder of the Week for March 18th, 2007.
How did you become a USC fan?
Before I answer that, I want to thank you for choosing me to be the Herder of the week! Being in the Herd is one of the highlights of my life every football season and I am honored that you chose me!
Well, I think I pretty much came out of the shoot a USC fan. My mom and Dad watched games while she was pregnant so I got the USC fever by osmosis! Seriously though my Dad was a huge USC fan from the Howard Jones days. He took me to my first game when I was about five years old. I have virtually no memory of that game but I do remember “THE HORSE.” I fell in love with Traveler the first time I saw him run around the track and whenever my Dad mentioned USC after that I would always yell about the horse, “DADDY, THE HORSE, THE HORSE!” and ask when we were going to see it again. It wasn’t long before I was back in the Coliseum with my Dad. He couldn’t stay away and I didn’t want to stay away either. He found out what a monster he created when one day, I guess I was about ten. We were going to the game against Notre Dame. The weather report was bad. There was rain approaching and it was really black outside. He suggested that we just stay home and watch the game on TV. I blew a gasket! I cried, I threw things, I ranted and raved, and I tried the best I could to manipulate my Dad! Well, it worked, and we were off to Big Five to buy rain gear. We bought plastic pants, jackets with hoods (not called Hoodies back then) and even booties that went over our feet. The rain came in buckets. I mean it rained so hard there was water falls coming down the stairs of the Coliseum! USC gutted out a victory that day, and I never ever once even thought about the rain! I knew then (and so did my dad) that nothing could keep me away from an SC game. Dad, you created a fan. One of the biggest fans ever created. Those of you who see me on the wall with smoke coming out of my ears, and my veins popping out know exactly what I am talking about!
You grew up in Catalina and San Pedro, so you have had a lot of personal experience with local talent going on to USC and playing football. How did that experience growing up less than an hour from USC put you in close and personal contact with the USC Football program?
The thing that it really did for me was make it easy to go to the games. I really didn’t follow the local talent until I moved back to the mainland from Catalina. I would come over on the boat decked out in my USC gear and hop on the 110 and get to the game! It was easy and a little separation of 26 miles across the sea did not hinder me from making many games and about four Rose Bowls!
Following up your San Pedro connection, you were the lead Herders (and maybe the lead Trojan fan) who was keeping watch over the Mario Danelo memorial site. You know the Herd and Trojan fans in general have a deep gratitude towards you for doing that, but that's not the point of this question. I'd just like to know how that experience affected you?
Wow, it was really tough. It was a beautiful and very sad experience. Every day when I went down there, I saw so many people, pouring out so much emotion. It was very difficult, but at the same time, I saw what a really close knit community San Pedro is. You know, I didn’t find out until late that Saturday night what had happened. I was asleep and got a phone call and the person on the other end said you better turn on the news. As soon as I heard, I got dressed and went down there. I met and talked with several of Mario’s friends and put down my candle. There was nothing there but a couple of bouquets and three or four other candles. I decided, as I was lying in bed thinking about it all, that I wanted to do something. I have watched my parents go through losing a child and also my oldest brother losing a child. So, I have been there before and know what a family goes through and the insurmountable grief that grips you.
The next day I went down again. The little memorial that we had put up the night before had grown so much larger. I noticed some of the candles were out so I went to my truck and got a lighter that I had. I started lighting the candles that were out. I decided then and there that I was going to watch over it until the day Mario was laid to rest. Every day when I went down there I had to hold back the tears. The night before the funeral I was down there, I kneeled down to light the candles, I felt a hand on my shoulder, I looked up and it was Tom Malone, he said to me, “are you that guy from the Herd?” I said yeah, and he said that he and the family really appreciated me coming down here and doing this. I didn’t know what to say, so I said, “I just wanted to be of service." Doing this…Being of service, gave me the chance, not only to get out of myself and forget about my problems, but to give something to a family that is going through something that I know only too well about. So, if I ever leave San Pedro, and I may never after that experience, I will always take the memory of being at the Memorial for Mario Danelo with me, and because the experience was so intense and so gripping, I will never forget it.
Can you briefly summarize your experience finding the USC message boards, and to follow that up, how did you feel when the topics on TFO turned to the lack of fan support in the Coliseum, and grew into the formation of the Herd?
It was 1990 when I moved off of Catalina. I had just found out what the heck the internet was (I know, a late bloomer) and me and my brand new 300 mghz computer got to work. It is funny you asked me about this, because one of the reasons why I got a computer was because I wanted to really keep in touch with what was going on with USC football. (photo left: CB in The Herd Walk) The first thing I did was go to search and type in USC football. The first site I found was www.uscfootball.com. I started surfing there, got a user name and began posting. Some one on that board had mentioned that people on TFO were talking about getting a group of tickets together. So I went over to TFO. I found the threads and read with a lot of interest and excitement what there plans were. I immediately said “I’m in” and it went from there.
I used to sit with my Uncle at the games. I love my Uncle and he has great seats, but I am a little bit more boisterous than what was tolerated in the section that was mostly really old people…Sorry Brooks…I like to get crazy, yell my head off, and stand on my feet. And why not, the team is working hard out there so why can’t the fans. So I was elated at the prospect of being in the Herd and being able to go nuts all I wanted to.
You were one of the charter members of the Herd. Original Herder. Founding Herdmember, however we qualify that. What has that experience been like, and what were your first impressions of the Herd during the San Jose State game and the whole season after that?
Sheesh! get it right; every one knows I alone started the Herd! Just kidding! Watching the Herd grow has been an awesome experience. I remember that first game. San Jose State had some tailback that was supposed to be so good, and he was going to cut through our line like butter. That was the first time some of us were on the wall and we were making fun of that tailback because he was so small! It was really funny. He got about two yards the whole game. I remember how much fun that first game was and how great it was to finally be the fan that I always wanted to be without any one telling me to sit down. My first impression of the herd was that it was the place to be! And I knew more people would want to be there.
You are one of the only Herders that make almost every Herd event whether it's a basketball game, a hockey game, a football event. What has the Trojan experience and the Herd experience meant to you? And to follow up on that, how have you enjoyed being a member of the extended Herd family?
Funny you should ask this question. I just finished watching the PAC-10 tournament. USC won in over time coming back from a really big deficit. So, I thought I only had a heart attack during football games. I am finding I get as much heart pounding excitement from watching other USC sports too. Who needs to work out! I get my heart rate up enough just watching USC sports!
The Herd, as I said earlier, is one of the highlights of my life. It provides fun, excitement, camaraderie and time to just forget about all the craziness that life hits you with. You know, these last few years have been a little tough for me. I have been kind of job hopping which is not a good thing to do so I certainly understand my part and responsibility in what has gone on in my life these past few years. I have bounced off my problems on some of the people in the Herd and have been given very good advice and encouragement. I know that some of the folks have been concerned (even if they don’t say so) because I can feel it when they ask me about what’s going on in my life or what I am doing now! The Trojan family has helped me in so many ways. The Herd has come to be much more then just a group of people that get together for sporting events. It has become a means of keeping my sanity! And I cherish the friendships I have made. They have been invaluable.
There are a few seminal Herd moments; from "We Believe" to Thomas Williams jumping into the stands right by you. Are there any special moments that you remember and feel especially a strong part of?
Well, not that any one else wants to remember this, but I remember Vegas as the first away trip that many of the Herd took together. I got there and went down to the Casino and I met my adopted brothers “The Springer’s” for the first time. I saw them sitting there at the bar and I said “There’s some SC fans!” we had a great conversation and it was like we already knew each other! It’s like that with SC fans. We have a lot to talk about and a lot in common!
I also can’t forget “27-0” That was one of the finest moments in the herd. That day just went so perfect for us. I think it used to be fun having all the other teams’ fans being closer to us so we could taunt them! We did our job that day!
And the first Orange Bowl was so awesome, with us having an entire floor of the Hotel and just taking over the town.
But, you know, there are so many great times and great memories, I could go on and on. Every Saturday being in the Herd, every tailgate, every away game, they're all seminal moments to me! I absolutely can’t get enough of the HERD!
You are one of the lead cheerleaders in the Herd, always standing, always yelling, always getting the Herd to the wall to support the Trojans. How do you get up for every game? And how important do you think it is to bring the intense fan support that you bring to every game at the Coliseum (or away)?
ARE YOU KIDDING ME! How do I get up for every game!? I am so pumped for every game there is no problem getting up. My heart pounds, my brain boils in my head, I froth at the mouth, and smoke comes out of my ears! I hardly ever sleep the night before because I am so excited! I run on adrenaline all day long and when I get home after the game I collapse and fall into an extremely deep sleep. It takes me some where around two days to fully recover from all the intensity that I pour out at a game. I don’t even drink, and a game day totally wears me out. Not to mention that I lose my voice for a week and just get it back in time for the next Saturday!
And how important is fan support? There is nothing more important in the Coliseum then fan support. That is why we formed! And the Coliseum has undergone a transformation in the years that we have been there. Of course we can’t take total credit for that transformation, but, no one can tell me that some of that is not due to us. In those first years the idea of the Herd caught on. We had people from other sections doing the air push ups and standing and yelling. There is one experience that proves how important it is, the “We Believe” game. The players fed off of us that game. Pete Carroll came into Section 11 after the game. He knows how important fan support is. And that is why he thanked us, because we were the ones that were there when things were not so great. I know a lot of people don’t like hearing that, but all you need to do is see how the players respond to us when they come out of the tunnel. Or even when they are on the field pointing at us!
And how about the Cal game?! How important was that. Our voices definitely contributed to the hated Bears not getting into the end zone during the fourth quarter that day. Any one who has been in our section knows this is true.
I have always felt this way about it. The guys play hard; they work really hard out there to win. They spill there blood and guts for the game. SO SHOULD WE! We should always give back what they give us. And leave every thing out there just like they do. And that’s what I do every game.
What do you see for the Herd as it moves forward? And what are your final thoughts about your Herd experience?
I see more of the same. I see growth. I would like to see us expand into section ten. I know there are more people who would like to stand with the Herd. I think they are still having some trouble in there sections being able to stand and cheer as much as they would like to. For some reason it’s hard to get the people in Section 10 (not the first row, lest I get into trouble with the Springer’s) to get up. I have admonished them, I have called them pathetic, I have waved my arms at them to get up off their behinds, and they won’t do it. So let’s put some people in those seats that will. I know this may never happen and some people may think my views on this are out of line, but I still think the Coliseum could be a lot louder and the fans could be a lot more supportive. (photo right: CB and LG)
A great part of the enjoyment I get out of life is due to me being a member of the Herd. I totally Jones for that Herd experience during the off season and that’s why I go to some of the other sporting events. I am just there to have fun! No politics, no animosity, I can honestly say I like every single Herd person I have ever met. I can’t wait until August, I can’t wait to be at that wall and standing at my seat, I can’t wait for that first game, I can’t wait until it all starts again!
LONG LIVE THE THUNDERING HERD!