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‘The Lions Den’

Football fans find TV fame at Maris Grove

Created date

April 16th, 2015
(From left) Russ Lombardo, Carl Rappold, and Bud Bergeman have a good time discussing Penn State football. They’re three of the four residents who star on “The Lions Den,” a program on Maris Grove’s in-house TV station.
(From left) Russ Lombardo, Carl Rappold, and Bud B


Let’s talk football.

Four times a year, Maris Grove residents and football fans Bud Bergeman, Russ Lombardo, Carl Rappold, and Dean Travis discuss Penn State football—is there any other kind?—during their TV show at Erickson Living’s retirement community in Delaware County, Pa. 

“The Lions Den,” named for Penn State’s Nittany Lions football team, airs on Maris Grove’s in-house television station, MGTV.  

The discussion is part of Thru the Lens, a series written, filmed, directed, and produced by resident volunteers.

Realizing a dream

The MGTV staff welcomes interested residents to become part of its volunteer crew and trains them in all aspects of television production. Scores of residents now enjoy new “careers” as on-air or behind-the-scenes talent.

Carl, a Maris Grove transplant from the Poconos, was already volunteering at the station as an interviewer for Thru the Lens, when “The Lions Den” first aired some five years ago. 

Since high school, Bud, who moved from nearby Brookhaven, had envisioned himself as a radio disc jockey or sportscaster. When he got out of the Service, he even considered trying out for acting roles in Hollywood. 

“But I got on the train and headed home instead,” he says. “I ended up a credit manager.” He chuckles and adds, “I realized my dream at Maris Grove.”

“What a great creative opportunity at a retirement community,” says Russ. “We didn’t expect to find that.”

The foursome brainstorms ideas and rehearses before every show. 

“We’re fortunate in the four perspectives we bring,” says Russ. “We make predictions, do recaps, and discuss and analyze the team, the games, and the season ahead.” 

A perennially popular topic

“There’s a loyal Penn State following at Maris Grove,” says Carl. For the panelists, that loyalty extends to legendary football coach Joe Paterno, who won 409 games during his 45 years at Penn State. 

“At our first show,” says Bud, “we had a life-size cutout of Joe standing behind us. He was right there with us.”

With just four shows a year, the men can comment on a few specific games, but considering Maris Grove’s large Penn State fan base, that’s okay. 

Throughout football season and probably beyond, no matter which of Maris Grove’s restaurants residents choose for their evening meal, “You go to dinner, and the conversation usually gets around to football,” says Bud. 

He and Carl are Penn State loyalists. They didn’t attend the university, but their sons are Penn State graduates.

Dean, on the other hand, not only graduated from Penn State, he played both offense and defense on its football team for three years. 

Russ, a former chemical engineer for DuPont, ushered at the games while he earned his Ph.D. “For football, Penn State is my school,” he says.

The panelists’ mix of thoughtful conversation and humor contributes to their show’s success. They might not always agree, but they have a good time airing their opinions.