When Rob Maiden left his home Monday afternoon, part of him wondered if he would be in the proverbial “doghouse” when he returned that evening.
As it turned out, by the time he made it home, he was a budding sensation. Just three days later, Maiden and his son Trey, have become overnight celebrities.
It seems like Maiden’s decision not to celebrate his 24th anniversary with his wife, Ladonna, and take his oldest son to the national championship game at AT&T Stadium was one that might have changed his life forever. It certainly has changed his week, and his 15-year-old son’s week as well.
From appearances on The Today Show, Fox & Friends to limo rides and fancy hotels in New York City, Maiden and his son are having a week they’ll remember forever.
So how did this all come about? Just a simple 90-second dance in between timeouts during Monday’s game between Kentucky and UConn. Maiden and his son’s choreographed dance routine was shown on the massive center-hung video board at AT&T Stadium.
Now that part isn’t so rare, considering Maiden is used to performing dance routines. He’s the captain of the Mavs ManiAACs, the Dallas Mavericks’ fun-loving dance team. But Maiden, who is mostly known as “Big Rob” is also a full-time employee for the Cowboys, as an Accounts Payable accountant in the team’s accounting department.
So Big Rob has been seen at several Cowboys games in the past and every time he attends any game there, he knows to be ready for a moment to shine.
“I pretty much go to the game literally knowing they are aware of where my seats are,” he said Thursday, just minutes before he boarded a plane to return from New York back to Dallas. “If the camera comes to me, I’ll be ready to do something fun. We did this years ago at a Cowboys game, he was a lot smaller. The fans went bananas, but we had never brought it back. I just decided for the NCAA championship, we just had to bring it.”
And Big Rob was just happy to be at the game, considering most evenings on April 7 he’s out with his wife enjoying a celebratory dinner.
“She said, ‘don’t worry about it. How many times is the championship game in Dallas?” Big Rob said of his wife, Ladonna. “I said I’d ask my son to dance with me if they put us on. If they come to us, we’re going to do a variety of stuff. And really, I need him to help us keep in touch with the current dances. I try to incorporate that into stuff that we do with the ManiAACs. I had stuff planned but never in my wildest dreams did I think we’d be on as long as we were.”
Late in the first half, during a timeout in the action, the massive screen jumped to a shot of Big Rob and Trey, who were sitting in the Club Level. Immediately, they rose to their feet and did a variety of moves, all to the new hit song, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams. While the cameras went back and forth from the father-son duo to other fans in the stands, the crowd kept increasing its roar every time the video board went back to Big Rob and Trey. After about 90 seconds, the song ended but the cheers did not as the crowd of 79,238, an NCAA national championship game record, gave one last thunderous applause for a job well done.
And with that, Big Rob was more than satisfied with the performance.
“The ultimate goal was to do something a little different for the NCAA crowd to see something fun and different,” he said. “That’s our goal at Cowboys games, just to make the people in the arena, just enjoy themselves. It doesn’t have anything to do with television or video or do anything other than make it a fun atmosphere.
“I realized immediately this was something way bigger because reporters were coming to the seats. Every person wanted to high-five us or pat us on the back. My son wasn’t ready for it. There’s presidents watching, so many celebrities in the building. The magnitude of that – nobody knows who you are and then all of a sudden, everyone knows who you are. It just overwhelmed him a little bit.”
So much that Trey, a freshman in high school, asked to leave the game with about five minutes to play.
“As we were walking out, I said, ‘son you see all the people wanting to high-five you and pat you on the back. Are you really to leave this? This stuff doesn’t happen every day. Once we go out of this building, it’s all going to go away.’ Well, I guess didn’t realize that it wasn’t going to go away.”
As he got home, Big Rob said his phone was blowing up already, mostly from his friends who attended the game. But when woke up Tuesday morning, he knew things had gone to a new level.
“My phone started ringing. New York phone calls. Los Angeles phone calls. Chicago phone calls. They were all aggressive,” he said. “My phone has been non-stop. It’s such a joy. It’s really just hard to put into words.”
Not only did the father-son duo show up on The Today Show and Fox & Friends, but they did their dance routines and some of the hosts, including Fox & Friends’ Elisabeth Hasselbeck, danced right along with them.
“It’s just really hard to put into words,” Big Rob said Thursday. “One minute, you’re just doing the same stuff you’ve always done. And the next minute, you’re in New York with your son on TV. I’m so happy for the stuff he’s getting to do and experience. That’s been the best part.”
And if they choose to keep it going, Big Rob and his son have been approached by at least five other national talk shows. While Trey has to get back to school, Big Rob has both the Mavericks and Cowboys to return to, it’s still uncertain whether they can fulfill all of these requests.
“I’ve a got a job,” Big Rob said with a laugh. “And Trey has school. So who knows if we can really do all of this. But we couldn’t have done it without the support of my Mavericks family and Cowboys family. They’ve been so understanding and supportive through this. I think everyone has really gotten a kick out of it.”
While Big Rob and his family are blown away by the sudden fame, others aren’t that surprised.
Victor Villalba, the Spanish play-by-play radio announcer for both the Mavericks and Cowboys has seen the rise of Big Rob and the Mavs ManiAACs over the years. And he couldn’t be happier for the notoriety.
“He is the greatest person. His heart is bigger than he is,” Villalba said. “But he just transmits happiness and good vibes. When you see him on the screen, you just get into it. People are drawn to them immediately. And Big Rob is right in the middle of it. You take it to AT&T Stadium and Big Rob on the big screen, he seems monumental. I’m just very happy for him. Big Rob on the big screen is big time!”
And bigger than even Big Rob’s wildest dreams.