When I made the jump from college to the workforce, I had a unique opportunity to work in the media business. I started in “public radio and television” and then moved over to “commercial” media. One of the wonderful experiences was getting to meet a variety of interesting people. Some were guests of my radio program; others were interviewed while I was working behind the scenes.
Being a huge sports fan, I was always excited to meet individuals in the world of sports. I can say with all honesty, the people I met were extremely cordial, regardless of their particular stature. I had the chance to speak to Lon Kruger when his was the head basketball coach at Illinois. Ron Turner was in the studio several times as the head football coach at Illinois as well. I once shook hands with the late Walter Payton, Ironman Cal Ripken, and baseball manager Tommy Lasorda.
I’m a lifetime Chicago Bears fan; along with Payton, I knew Kevin Butler and Mark Bortz from the Super Bowl Champs. I even met the true Monster of the Midway, Dick Butkus. Granted I was four and ran when he stood up. So when I was posed with the question of what professional athlete I would like to meet, it was pretty easy.
Bears quarterback, Jay Cutler.
But it’s not for the reason you might think.
You see, my degree is in communication. Interpersonal Communication.
I would love to meet Cutler simply for the fact that I would love to offer him some advice to how to deal with the media.
The ridiculous lambasting he took after the NFC title game is really the reason to talk with him. I don’t know him at all (as I’m sure that most media members don’t either) but perception is reality.
How you are viewed is how you are… wrong, right, or otherwise.
It reminds me of a story that happened to me many years ago. After a Cubs game, my brother and I had the chance to meet lead-off man extraordinaire, Brett Butler, who was playing for the LA Dodgers at the time. He was a true gentleman in every sense of word. He took a few moments out of his day and talked to us like we were family friends. He also mentioned that the rest of the team was getting on the bus and we could go over and see some of the other Dodgers.
Excitedly we ran over and saw several guys talking. Each one was very friendly, signed our scorecards and shook our hands.
Then we saw him.
My brother approached and addressed him by “Mister”. He stopped, smiled and walked right over. He eagerly signed his scorecard and asked if my brother played ball. He responded with a nervous “yes”. The man smiled again and told him to “always keep your back elbow up when you bat. Swing all the way through the ball.” He wished him the best of luck and patted my brother on the head. He waved at me and I wished him the best of luck. He said thanks for coming out to the game. He waved again and got on the bus.
To this day, I remember this exchange. You see the Dodger was no one other than Darryl Strawberry.
Yes, that Darryl Strawberry.
Who had been ridiculed, scorned, razzed, and just about any other term you can think of during his playing days. Some of it because of his own accord, but many times just because of the perception he was a bad guy.
I know he wasn’t.
That’s why I would love to talk to Culter. I’d love to just talk with him and share some stories.
Maybe offer some advice.
After all, I’m a teacher, and teacher’s teach.
Always for the benefit of the student.