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As a child we all dream of becoming a professional athlete. For most of us it starts with playing home run derby against the neighbors, or flag football in the yard against our cousins. Throughout our adolescent years, most of us begin to realize that our dreams far outreach our physical talents. Though our playing career may be over, our desire to compete remains. For me that was the moment that I began bass fishing. I knew that no matter the age, or God given athletic talent, I would always be able to compete in the world of bass fishing. Though it may seem like two completely different worlds, I have come to realize that the gap between professional sports and the bass fishing community are much closer than they appear.
I first met Brian Robison while he was still active in the NFL. He was the towering statue of a man next to me at the holding tank of a bass tournament. In that moment I did not feel as if he were superhuman or an unapproachable NFL superstar who won the most memorable College Football National Championship of all time, but rather just one of the guys competing to be successful in the world of bass fishing. I would watch him perform at a high level on national television and never thought that he would love the sport of bass fishing like I do. Then I noticed his hookset celebration dance when he would sack an opposing Quarterback. That love became very apparent when it was announced that Brian would become half owner in my favorite tackle retail store, Tackle Addict. If you have ever been in Tackle Addict and met Brian you quickly realize that he is just one of the guys. While he will seem almost shy when you talk to him about his playing career in the NFL, his demeanor quickly changes when you talk fishing. There is an excitement that seems to take over as he begins to dive deeper into the conversation. From competing in the local or regional tournaments, to producing his benefit tournament for the Brian Robison Foundation, it is clear that Brian is immersed in the fishing way of life.
In high school I loved playing baseball. That is until I had to step into the batter's box against a local phenom. Even though he later became a two time World Series Champion while playing first base, in high school Brandon Belt was one of the most feared pitchers in the state of Texas. Throwing mid to upper nineties, he was a physical presence when he was on the mound. As he continued his career it was amazing to see his hard work turn into success at the highest level of baseball. Being a local East Texas guy I was always happy for his major league success, but when I would see him in town with his family during the off season he seemed to me as if he was larger than life. One day I received a call explaining that Brandon had fallen in love with the sport of bass fishing and wanted to give back to the anglers that he admired. He wanted to produce a team fishing tournament on Lake Sam Rayburn that was bigger than anyone could imagine. He wanted to give $100,000 to the first place team, all while raising money for charity. Being a videographer he wanted me to help with promoting the event. With his first tournament being a huge success, and giving over $103,000 to charity, it was easy to see the love and desire that Brandon has for the fishing industry.
Two giant professional sports figures, in two very different sports, and both have a love and passion for the sport of bass fishing. Who would have thought? That is as improbable as the two of them uniting not over professional sports, or the fact that they both played their college ball at the University of Texas, but rather over their common love of bass fishing. What is even more ludacris is the two have forged a partnership to become co-owners in the premiere Texas based tackle retailer of Tackle Addict. The partnership was not based on the opportunity to merely become successful business owners, but rather to provide a major league shopping experience for those just like them, bass anglers. If you stop by Tackle Addict near the dam at Lake Sam Rayburn, you won’t find yourself in a conversation with a couple of unapproachable professional sports athletes, but rather with a couple of fellow fishing enthusiasts who are consumed with learning as much as they can about the sport of bass fishing. Though our differences are vast, the one thing that can unite us all under one roof is that we are all Tackle Addicts.