TELLURIDE, CO--Scientists announced that Tom Lemming, Tom Luginbill, and several other major recruiting experts were safely placed into hibernation at the Institute for Seasonally Useful Sports Figures, according to Dr. Jay Pradhamavan, the project coordinator for the Institute.
"Lemming is currently in a stable state of hibernation in the football recruiting wing, along with most of the staff of Rivals.com and Scout," Pradhamavan said in a conference call with journalists and network executives. "He and others are being fed a nutritious solution of glucose and vitamins intravenously, and are currently in a state of suspended animation where their body temperatures have been lowered to 89.4 degrees."
"In other words," the white-coated charismatic young pioneer in the field of hibernation said, "they've settled into their offseason nicely."
The Institute, located inside a mountain on a private, gated campus just outside of Telluride, is a joint venture between ABC/Disney/ESPN, CBS, NBC, and Fox networks to ensure maximum economy in using their announcing talent.
"We had so many announcers, and so many specialists," said George Bodenheimer, President of ESPN. "Keeping them on payroll the whole time was expensive, and they seemed so miserable the rest of the year. So science met economics, and frankly, we've all come around to viewing this as a win-win situation."
Selected journalists received an exclusive peek inside the facility.
At first glance, the Institute resembles a misplaced expensive tech campus: a sprawling green lawn, concealed parking beneath a wedding cake white Frank Gehry designed campus, and a sleek, industrial-moderne foyer with a discreet but formidable security checkpoint system built in. There are no logos, no signs, or anything giving away to the outside world what the Institute actually is.
Institute spokesperson Angela Fisher says that is precisely the point. "We promise our clients absolute discretion. Who wants to admit that, outside of a single event or short football season, their lives are a void left empty by the departure of their particular sport? Believe me: when we put these people under, the last thing they say is "Thank you." It's one of the more rewarding parts of the job. "
A walk through a sterilization room and another security point takes you to the actual hibernation wards themselves: clinical white spaces where the clients wait in mummy-like cocoons of life-support equipment.
The gentle beeping of machines sounds throughout the halls. A sign reads "SHHHHHHH," and a new arrival takes one last leg-stretching jog through the facility before his nap.
Their names are emblazoned on the sides: McKay, Lemming, Button, Liggett. The tour guides hustle you quickly through lest you steal trade secrets or take too many photographs, but others are recognizable through the glass: the guy who does the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest, Peter Gammons, Bud Collins, Phil Liggett, Tom Hammond...the list is an impressive one.
The guide tells us there are two hibernation options: Carbonite and suspended animation.
"Carbonite is cheaper, and there are more risks, like actual theft of the hibernating individual and other health risks. Often times, less monied clients will opt for this. It's a favorite of ESPN, as well, though, especially for their non-Sportscenter clients. They once asked us if they could just throw someone in a freezer for a few months.
The guide smiles. "Sometimes, part of the job is educating the client."
The tour group then moved on to a revivification room, where the NASCAR team is just being revived for their season. Commentator Darrell Waltrip, groggy in a hospital gown but still animated enough for a quick chat, says it's no worse than some naps he's taken.
"I mean, have you ever eaten a lot of candy and then passed out on a leather couch when it's real hot outside? It's about that uncomfortable when you wake up. But the thought of facing a non-racing day's a lot worse, believe me. You ever found yourself crying and doing donuts in a parking lot in Franklin, Tennessee just dying for the smell of burned rubber? Whew, man. You don't wanna be there."
Waltrip says others have it much worse. "Those Olympic guys are down for three and a half years in between stints. They've gotta read books to catch up. Me, I just gotta check the papers. Hey, the Patriots won the Super Bowl, right? And how's Giuliani doing in the election? No way that guy's losing this thing man. And hey! The Daytona 500's coming up baby! BOOGITY BOOGITY!"