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RBR Tailgating: Hanging with Mr. Cooper

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A subtle way of reminding you that RBR Tailgating still exists by pointing out that we should be celebrating Amari Cooper’s pre-season NFL debut later with a simple but delicious sandwich.

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Alas, I have never actually seen an episode of the show Hanging with Mr. Cooper. Its run from 1992 - 97 began at the same time I was able to grow enough facial hair to give my fake ID teeth and ended way before I was married and had children. There were no DVRs. I missed it.

From what I've read, the show starred Oakland native Mark Curry as Mark Cooper, former Golden State Warrior, who settles down in the Oakland area and takes a job as a science teacher because, inexplicably, he can't get the high school basketball coaching job he really wants. Throw in some platonic cohabitational hijinx and you have the makings of a prime time romp.

And it was, at least at the beginning. Hanging with Mr. Cooper, per classictvhits.com, finished 17th in the 92-93 season, averaging 13,592,600 estimated viewers per episode. The show was never again ranked so high although it did well enough to remain a mainstay of ABC's TGIF line up until its finale in 1997. That was a finale that Oakland, the setting of the show and home of its star, never got to see.

While those who didn't have convincing facial hair, spouses, or children in the Eastern, Central, and Mountian time zones were able to see the last episode in its entirety, five minutes into the West Coast broadcast ABC broke in with news of the death of Princess Diana. ABC never re-aired the episode and Oakland has been without a Mr. Cooper ever since.

Into that void steps Amari. The pressure to fill those shoes must be immense. If we are to compare viewers to dollars, the sitcom's first year's estimated 13,592,600 per show audience is 1,107,400 units less than the $14,700,000 guaranteed in the first year under Amari's contract. More daunting than being held to a debut year Hanging with Mr. Cooper standard, it seems the Raiders are expecting a mid nineties ABC mainstay Full House - also a Jeff Franklin creation - type performance (92-93 season estimated 14,709,800 viewers per episode). That show was the lead in!

We saw him prevail at Alabama even when all eleven opposing defenders knew exactly where the ball was going. We have read expert after expert fawn over his route running ability. Tomorrow he tests his skills against the highest level of competition for the first time.

The Oakland Raiders kick off against the St. Louis Rams in Oakland at 9pm central, but you can't watch it unless you live in Oakland or St. Louis. You can DVR the 12am showing on the NFL Network and watch it with the following simple lunch on Saturday.

Italian Cold Cut Sandwich with Peppers

- 3 types of Italian Aged Meats - one fatty, one spicy, and one salty (I used Dry Salami, Capicola, and Prosciutto respectively)

- Bell or other Sweet Peppers

- Fresh Mozzarella

- Fresh Basil

- Olive Oil

- Red Wine Vinegar

- Fresh Hoagie or Sandwich Rolls

Yes. I am about to explain to grown adults how to make a sandwich, but this is fall camp time. You don't start in pads with full contact.

I didn't give weights or proportions. More or less according to taste is fine as long as no ingredient overshadows another.

If you have an airing/cooling rack lay the peppers on it over a cookie sheet. If not, put the peppers directly on the pan and put into a preheated oven at 425 for 20 minutes.

Peppers on rack

Remove the peppers to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap and let sit 10 minutes. The heat and enclosed space should cause the pepper skin to separate from the flesh.

Peppers in bowl

Remove cover, pull off skin, de-seed, and slice.

Peppers on Board

Toss with a glug of olive oil and the same of red wine vinegar. Salt to taste.

Peppers with Vin

Slice hoagie roll the way you usually see people slice hoagie rolls for sandwiches and top with all three meats. Put in oven at 350 until the bread is just beginning to crisp - 5 minutes or so.

Meats for Cooper

Meats on Bread for Cooper

Remove from oven, add sliced fresh mozzarella, a few basil leaves, and a handful of roasted peppers.

Meats with Mozz for Cooper

Meats with Peppers for Cooper

Root for Oakland's latest Mr. Cooper and enjoy.

Cooper Sandwich

Final Note: Birmingham's own Nell Carter played the principal in the sitcom so both Mr. Cooper's have Alabama ties.