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Larry Culpepper & the Great College Football Playoff Caper

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He’s finally had enough.

Dr Pepper - 2016 College Football Roadshow - Nebraska at Wisconsin Photo by Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images for Dr. Pepper

Tampa. It never should've been in Tampa.

He dreamed the whole thing up from nothing: sweating in the florid football swamps of the SEC and ACC, a heavy drink tray slung over his back and nothing but gumption and dreams to sustain him. The College Football Playoff. It began as a bug in the depths of his mind and slowly, across the years of peddling syrupy refreshment to the craving masses, evolved into the beautiful chrysalis of what we know now.

Then they had to go and play the game in fucking Tampa. That's when he decided it was time for his severance pay.

He began planning it months and months before the game. Studied the schedules, pulled the public records. Devoured the stadium blueprints and scanned the vending contracts until he had a coherent and watertight plan drawn up in his mind, the biggest caper in sport: make off with the entire vendor bankroll at the national title game. He'd already made history once, now he'd do it again.

It was Flo who'd finally convinced him. Their history was stormy: off-and-on-again over the past decade, a pair of fatigued spokespeople alone in a world full of clamoring voices. They found each other naturally. She was slinging insurance. He was driving around in an RV hawking sodas. It was an inevitable romance, but no less torrid for its predictability. Two indomitable forces in the ad game: power sources attracting like magnets. She'd had enough too, she said, and whispered in his ear.


He had two men on the inside. Dari would see to the technical side for a healthy slice. Jesse turned for so much less: he was the distraction, the sideshow to draw attention away from the extraction process, the tunneling through the bowels of Raymond James, the loading of the duffel bags of cash into his waiting RV. The escape would be brilliant in its daring: the same vehicle everyone sees on TV a dozen times a broadcast driving nonchalantly through the cordon with millions in the hold. Just him and Flo rolling off into the sunset, making to the Keys and a waiting speedboat destined for an offshore bank, endless days in the sun and sand, and no more corporate shilling.

There's no room for error. That's why he's nervous about Tampa. In a state full of the erratic, Tampa is rife with uncertainty: a bedrock of endless stripmalls, a stifling, humid bay, and a sports culture of pirate-worship. It was the perfect cover for the operation and also the perfect breeding ground for doubt.

ABC's 'Good Morning America' - 2016
inside man: Jesse’s immaculate beard and skinny tie will distract security during the extraction operation

Right now he's gassing up the RV. He's checked in on Dari and Jesse via text. Everything seems in place.

But Flo isn't answering his messages.

A few hours until showtime, and all he can think about is the nagging fear in the back of his mind: the ultimate irony of his entire plan for the future could come crashing down at the hands of the one person tasked with safeguarding fortunes. He's committed the cardinal sin that has enabled him to orchestrate this heist: he's forgotten that what she is on TV is not who she is in reality.

Dr Pepper - 2016 College Football Roadshow - AdvoCareClassic
the vehicle: hurtling toward a new life in the Caribbean
Photo by Peter Larsen/Getty Images for Dr Pepper

Flo is in the wind, and Larry's got no choice but to try to pull it off anyway. He cracks open a can and revs the engine, headed for the bay and the stadium.

"Ice cold," he says.


The Road Goes On Forever And The Commercials Never End

Flo was selling insurance at the Progressive joint in town
She had a reputation as a girl who made a lot of sound
Down Main Street after midnight with a brand new pack of cigs
A fresh one hangin' from her lips and a beer between her legs
She'd ride down to the river and meet with all her friends
The road goes on forever and the party never ends

Larry was a loner he was older than the rest
He was going into sports admin but he couldn't pass the test
So he hung around town he sold Dr Pepper a lot
The law caught wind of Larry and one day he got caught
But he was back in business when they set him free again
The road goes on forever and the party never ends

Larry's buyin' RV coverage at the joint where Flo works
When some drunken Jesse Palmer put his hand up Flo's skirt
Larry took his drink tray, laid ol' Palmer on the floor
Stuffed a dollar in her tip jar and walked on out the door
She's runnin' right behind him reachin' for his hand
The road goes on forever and the party never ends

They jumped into his RV, Larry jammed her down in gear
Larry looked at Flo and said lets get on outta here
The stars were high above them and the moon was in the east
The sun was settin' on them when they reached Miami Beach
They got a hotel by the water and a quart of Bombay gin
The road goes on forever and the party never ends

They soon ran out of money but Larry knew a man
Who knew some Cuban refugees that delt in contraband
Larry met the Cubans in a house just off the route
With a briefcase full of Dr Pepper and a pistol in his boot
The cans were on the table when the law came bustin' in
The road goes on forever and the party never ends

The Cubans grabbed the sodas and Larry grabbed the Jack
He broke a bathroom window and climbed on out the back
Flo drove the RV through the alley on the side
Where a lawman tackled Larry and was reading him his rights
She stepped into the alley with a single shot .410
The road goes on forever and the party never ends

They left the lawman lyin' and they made their getaway
They got back to the motel just before the break of day
Larry gave her all the money and he blew her a little kiss
If they ask you how this happened say I forced you into this
She watched him as his taillights disappeared around the bend
The road goes on forever and the party never ends

Its Main Street after midnight just like it was before
21 months later at the local grocery store
Flo, she buys a paper and a cold 6-pack of beer
The headlines read that Larry is goin' to the chair
She pulls back onto Main Street in her new Mercedes Benz
The road goes on forever and the party never ends