How Did This Guy Turn This Guy Into Phillys Most Popular Pitchman?
IT’S A TESTAMENT to the determination of Jon Runyan, or to whatever else is driving him, that he is here this Tuesday afternoon, in front of a makeup mirror, having his cheeks gently patted with number four powder by makeup artist Mindy Tamaccio.
The Eagles’ Monday-night game against the Cowboys ended in Dallas just 17 hours ago, midnight Philadelphia time. It was a slugfest, the highest-scoring game ever in a bitter and ancient rivalry. The Eagles ran 60 plays from scrimmage, almost all of them occasions for Runyan, an offensive tackle, to experience bone-jangling collisions with defensive ends and outside linebackers. Runyan played solidly, but Donovan McNabb was sacked twice during a last-chance drive, and the Eagles lost, 41-37.
A charter got the team back to Philadelphia by five o’clock on Tuesday morning, and by 6:30 Runyan had downed three Tylenol PMs at his house in Mount Laurel to get some sleep for his other job, which is being everywhere that a 330-pound, six-foot-eight professional football player can be in the local media.
Now, on six hours of sleep, saving the full-body hurt for a more convenient time, here he is at the Comcast SportsNet studio inside the Wachovia Center, being made up for his regular gig on Daily News Live. “Are you feeling healthy after two games?” host Michael Barkann asks Runyan. “How’s the old tailbone? Are you sitting all right?”
“I’m leaning forward right now,” Runyan says, and everyone chuckles about the chronic pain.
Next stop — same night — Runyan drives his school-bus-size Chevy pickup to a tavern in Ridley Township called Tom & Jerry’s. He sits in a glassed-in booth for the two-hour weekly radio show he does on WIP with Anthony Gargano. Owner Jerry Burns pays the station for the privilege of hosting the broadcast. He won’t say how much, other than “It’s not free.” (His bar also is the official venue for WIP’s Wing Bowl after-party.) On the air, callers wallow in gloom about the Cowboys loss. “I guess I’ve seen the run fall short so many, so many, so many times,” a despondent caller named Jerry moans to Runyan and Gargano, as if he’s dialing from the ledge outside his high-rise window.
By eight the next morning, Runyan will start the weekly cycle again at the Eagles’ NovaCare Complex training facility, rubbing his eyes to watch films for the coming home game against Pittsburgh, practicing until about six. Then he’ll tape a video segment for Fox 29’s Eagles Game Day Live pre-game show, then attend a board meeting of the local chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association.