By Mark Janssen
NYC - Without question, John Brown is K-State's MVP of this New Era Pinstripe Bowl trip so far.
Never heard of him? That's not a surprise.
Brown, plus his son-in-law Todd Carlson of Wamego, were the men behind the wheels of K-State's two semis that left Manhattan on Thursday with over 30,000 pounds of football equipment, medical and video gear, plus, all the luggage of the 350-plus person travel party that arrived by charter Sunday afternoon.
With a pair of overnight stops along the way where they slept in their trucks - "I promise you, the bed in my truck is more comfortable than the one I have upstairs," Brown said while sitting in the Sheraton lobby - Brown and Carlson pulled into the Big Apple around 11 Christmas morning.
Brown, who has been with K-State since 1993, is a Physical Plant Supervisor II for K-State, plus is an ultra-handyman for the Vanier Football Complex.
"I used to drive semis, but there came a time when my wife told me to either give up driving or she would give up me," he laughed. "I gave up driving."
Well, he gave up driving with the exception of making hauls for K-State football for every road trip, including this one.
"My advice to any driver coming to New York City is know where you're going before you get here," said Brown. "I thought I did that, but my directions out of Columbia University (where KSU is practicing) came from a non-semi driver."
Shaking his head, Brown said he passed the George Washington Bridge, but ended up on a one-way street not designed for 70-foot rigs.
"I was on a street with nowhere to go," said Brown. "I ended up backing the truck five blocks going the wrong way on a one-way street in order to get back to a street where I could turn on. There were a lot of people mad at us, but we had no choice. The one thing that saved us is that it was Christmas Day. There was traffic, but not like a normal day."
Laughing, Brown then recounted his first trip into "the" city as a 21-year-old driver. That's when he hit one of NYC's famed bridges only to find he would not have clearance for his trailer.
"An officer asked what I was doing, and I just said, 'I missed a sign while looking out for the 150 million cars you have here," Brown chuckled. "If murder would have been legal, he would have killed me on the spot."
Driving such a $205,000 International rig - 70 feet long, loaded with 30,000-plus pounds of football gear - is challenge enough in the open Flint Hills, but in New York City ...
"I know a lot of drivers who wouldn't do it for any amount of money," Brown said. "No matter how many trips you make here, you're never totally comfortable. You make a wrong turn in New York City, and you may have to go 25 miles out of your way to get back to where you want to be."
Oh, the fuel bill, you ask? With diesel prices at $3.30-plus a gallon, it takes close to a $1,000 bill to fill Brown's two 150-gallon tanks ... and then his son-in-law takes his turn at filling up.