In August of 2013, I traveled to Baton Rouge to spend the day with then LSU football coach Les Miles for a profile I was writing about him for the New York Times. I was to attend practice that morning and then spend the afternoon with him in his office and around campus, basically a normal late summer, preseason work day for him.
The scheduling for this hangout of sorts was difficult to nail down. The idea I originally pitched the LSU athletic department was to spend an offseason day that summer with Miles, one in which he wasn’t consumed with his normal duties as coach of a major college football program, before preparations for the upcoming season began in full, so that I could get more of a glimpse of Miles’ life outside of football. I wanted Miles’ wife to send him out with a honey-do list — to get groceries, pick up dry cleaning, stock up on potting soil from Home Depot, etc. — so that I could accompany him on such errands. I wanted to see Les Miles out and about doing normal, real life things and having interactions with other, non-football people. I wanted to see his human side, essentially.
Unfortunately, the plan to spend a personal day with Miles got scrapped after multiple scheduling conflicts from Miles’ side arose, and I was rescheduled to instead spend a work day with him, a day that I was told would be the last day before the season started that any member of the media could get a full day of access to him. Though it wasn’t what I originally hoped for, I still got a good glimpse at the human side of Les Miles.
You see, at around 6 a.m. on the day I was to spend with Miles, I was hit by a car as I rode a bike to a rental car place in New Orleans’ central business district. The car ran a red light at an intersection just as I was cruising through it. The driver slammed on his or her brakes, but I was still hit head on. What transpired was and still is kind of a blur, but what resulted was me being flipped over the car and landing on my back in the street. The driver then sped away in a classic hit-and-run, leaving me splayed out in the middle of the intersection.
Luckily, despite the fact that I wasn’t wearing a helmet, I somehow came away with no major injuries. I was banged up pretty good, sure, but I was okay. I remember two witnesses at the scene looking mildly shocked when I picked myself up off the ground without any help as the bike I was riding lay a few feet away in a mangled mess. They insisted I go to an emergency room to be examined, but I refused.
“No, I have to get to Baton Rouge to spend the day with Les Miles,” I told them. “Today’s my last chance to do it.”
That said, I didn’t feel totally right in the head. I was dizzy, a bit wobbly, to the point where I didn’t feel like it was a good idea for me to be driving. So I went down to the bus station and hopped aboard a Greyhound bus headed to Baton Rouge.