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I've been a sportswriter since I was 16, meaning I've been in the newspaper business for exactly half my life. Add the fact that I was a paperboy delivering Newsday as a kid, and it's no wonder some days I feel ready to retire.

Because of this job, I've gotten to meet a lot of cool celebs, but last week I had a thrilling 25 minutes.

Other than hockey, music is next on my list of things I revere -- everything from R.E.M. and U2 to Guster, Barenaked Ladies and Dave Matthews Band.

But ever since "August and Everything After" was released in 1993, I've been a massive Counting Crows fan. My iPod works OT when it comes to Counting Crows.

During the lockout, I covered the Marlins and became friends with Roxy Bernstein, one of their radio play-by-play men. He's pals with Counting Crows lead singer Adam Duritz, who attended Cal, like Roxy. The Marlins were in St. Louis, but knowing I was going to last Thursday's Counting Crows show in West Palm Beach, Roxy e-mailed me that his wife, Sheri, could take me backstage before the show.

I showed up with two friends, Mark and Dave, and seconds after we met Sheri, she swooped us backstage.

As we stood by the buses with Goo Goo Dolls playing in the distance, Duritz arrived as friendly as can be. I learned he's a passionate, well-versed sports fan.

We talked A's, Marlins and Twins. He told us he boxes 12 rounds a day (his jaw was sore from a punch he took from his traveling coach). We talked Cal football; he was convinced the Bears, who play the Gophers today, could win the national championship even if they lost to Tennessee. Duritz assured us there was no way they would lose to Tennessee (they were smoked).

We talked hockey. He's good friends with Red Wings defenseman Mathieu Schneider and asked if I knew his pal, Minneapolis-based agent Brian Lawton, immediately reminding me that Lawton was the No. 1 pick in the 1983 draft.

I told Duritz I recently talked Lawton's head off when I found myself sitting next to him on a flight to Vancouver.

Duritz offered me his copy of a new documentary he did some of the music for, "Ice Kings" (www.icekingsthemovie.com), which is now being sold. The film's about Mount St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, R.I., which won 26 consecutive high school titles and produced such players as Lawton, Schneider, Bryan Berard and the Wild's Keith Carney.

Unfortunately, most of our conversation is a blur. I've never been in awe of any athlete I've interviewed (OK, Gretzky the first time), yet I found myself in la-la land with every word that came from Duritz's mouth.

Like the movies, there was silence and his lips were in slow motion as I thought ridiculous things like, "I'm talking sports with Adam Duritz!" and, "I remember playing 'Anna Begins' 50 times in a row at summer camp."

My two friends and Duritz posed for a picture. Five minutes later, we realized it didn't take. So Sheri took us backstage after the concert to ask for another.

There, Duritz was like an athlete -- exhausted with ice packs on his knees. He took another picture with us, and 12 hours later, I went for a workout with Counting Crows blaring out of my iPod.
Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune

Author: Michael Rand

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