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Feature Story (PR 454) - Tarik Benfquih
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Feature Story (PR 454)

From a fan, to the field & back to the stands: A Sports Cycle

Born in Toronto, but growing up in Nepean, Ontario, a suburb of Ottawa, Jesse Palmer has had access to sports all his life. The two cities have notorious sports teams, ones I’m sure every Canadian want to grow up and play for. Not too far east was the Montreal Expos, if he had chosen baseball. Instead, Jesse chose to play American football and decided to attend the University of Florida and become a gator. He played there as a QB for 3 seasons from 1998-2000. He went on to throw for over 3700 yards and 31 touchdowns in his career. Additionally, Jesse worked even harder off the field, becoming 1 of 5 team captains, as well as receiving academic honor roll every year that he attended Florida. In 2001 Jesse was drafted by the New York Giants and played for them until 2005. After this he went to the CFL to play for the Alouettes.

Fortunately, life doesn’t stop after sports, and he made it a point to honor that. Jesse immediately began working as a sports commentator on college football games. He even famously saved his fellow commentators Chris Fowlers’ life using the Heimlich maneuver during the halftime of the pinstripe bowl back in 2013. Jesse was making plays on and off the field. Time passed and he went on to host the Bachelor, Holiday Baking Championship, as well as feature on Good Morning America, Law and Order and even ESPN.

For someone who did not grow up playing hockey, that didn’t stop the multi-talented Jesse Palmer from having fun at the LA Kings’ games this past Saturday. The Kings took on the Maple Leafs at the Crypto.com Arena and won 4-2 after full time. Kevin Fiala put on a star of the game performance along with Anze Kopitar, moving the King’s record to 6-6 this season. When asked how he felt watching his hometown team lose, Jesse went on to say ““Felt like it was a win still… I had to root for both teams. Still had a great time regardless of the score.” That’s what going to game is all about, just enjoying the environment and atmosphere. Being a former NFL and CFL athlete, Jesse knows all about that. Jesse spent 5 years playing professional sports. More recently, he was permanently instated as the Bachelor host last September (2021). Jesse has been near LA for quite a while now, filming episodes in Agoura Hills, California. Without much free time to come and watch a game, Jesse took the opportunity to him offered by the Kings.

When asked to talk about the bachelor, he declined, probably a sign that he just wants to be a fan for the day. He said that he had fun with the little things like receiving a custom King’s jersey and getting to meet the players. “There’s intermission with a lot of down time to kill,” said Jesse. “They keep the fans entertained and meeting some of the players after the game was really cool, I’m glad they invited me to do that.” With 21 of the players (on both teams) growing up in Canada, the language barrier wasn’t a challenge as they could communicate in French. Maybe he was telling them secrets about the new Bachelor season…., or how to beat the Maple Leafs. Being a football player growing up has definitely led him down a different path, but he still relinquishes in being able to just watch sport events without having to act like a player. Who doesn’t love being a fan. Being able to remove yourself is a skill that not everyone has, Jesse remains vigilant to it.

The player intros, lineup announcements and videos they did before the game were among the things that caught Jesse’s eye. He gave huge props to the LA Kings for keeping someone who doesn’t LOVE hockey entertained. That’s what sports is all about, having fun. Sports teams all over the world try their best to make the game an enjoyable time for casuals and sports fans alike. The LA kings pride themselves on making a positive impact in their community and bringing together TV personalities with sports is a fantastic mix. 4.7 million people tuned into the Bachelor finale this past April, and all of those viewers know who Jesse Palmer is. The Kings are hoping to reach out to more audiences that hockey isn’t only for sports fans, it’s for people who want to be entertained. Whether you’ve played or not, just having someone at the game always makes it more fun for the fans, players, staff, and organization who get to work with them. Guest appearances are a hit or miss in today’s social climate, but we are so glad Jesse was able to make it, speak with our players and enjoy the game as a fan, something everyone deserves to do. 

The LA Kings next game is against the Chicago Blackhawks, Thursday November 3rd at 5:30 pm at the United Center. They look to go above.500 again as the NHL season continues to kick-off.