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Sports figures you have met.


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While posting in the HOF thread I remembered meeting Andre Dawson a few years ago. He was pretty cool. That got me thinking that a thread where we talk about our "brushes with greatness" might be fun. I can't recall if we've ever done one of these but even if we have there may be new names added to the list by now.

So what was the story? Were they cool or were they total jerks?

Here are a few of mine.

Andre Dawson: Pretty cool guy but he wasn't much into making small talk. Very intense.

Jim Brown: Intimidating as all hell. Very nice but you got the feeling you better do exactly what he told you to do. I asked him to sign an autograph. He said "I won't do that but I'll shake your hand and talk with you for a few minutes." He was very pleasant.

Earnest Byner: Talked with me for a while and posed for a picture too. Really cool guy.

Hanford Dixon: Simply the friendliest most accessible athlete I've ever met. He acted like everyone was a long lost friend.

Pete Rose: About what you'd expect.

Donovan McNabb: Really cool guy. Good sense of humor. I interviewed him for a radio show in Syracuse his freshman year. He hadn't been named the starter yet so I asked him if he ever hoped that the other QBs would get the flu or something. He cracked up. His competition that season was Kevin Johnson. When I asked Johnson the flu question he got really pissed. Johnson was an ass.

Manny Acta: Met him when he was managing single A ball in Auburn NY. Saw him interviewed last week here on local TV. He's exactly the same. Very nice guy. That's no act. He's genuine.

Jim Thome: Met him during the Indians press tour in 2000. He was great until our idiot sales manager at the station I was working for walked in with about 50 things for Thome to sign. I actually apologized to Thome and the other Indians for our sales guy being such a jerk. It was really cool talking baseball with Thome and a couple other Indians. Then it was ruined. Thome was a good guy.

That should be good for a start. I'll add more later.

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I've met many Anaheim Ducks and Angels at Fan Fests and whatever, in their controlled environment. They were all very nice and whatever, but you expect that at these fan events.

I've only met two athletes out in the open.

I met Ryan Getzlaf at an Olive Garden near my house a little over a year ago. I walked in and I saw a tall guy with a Saskatchewan Roughriders hat on and a small child with a Ducks hat on. I made the quick connection that Ryan's brother played for the Roughriders and especially with the kid in the hat. I thought maybe it was Chris Getzlaf, but said nah couldn't be. That'd be weird.

I was given a seat and the guy and kid were sat two booths in front of me with an older lady. Then a minute later, who rounds the corner? Ryan Getzlaf. Then it all instantly made sense. I had no pen with me or anything ready to sign, and I wanted to maybe try because he is my favorite player, but I didnt want to interrupt his dinner. My aunt gave me my little cousin's kids menu and a crayon and said "go for it." I couldn't resist.

I walked up, politely said excuse me sorry for interrupting your dinner tonight. In his thick Canadian accent, he said "oh no problem, what's up?" I told him that he was my favorite player and asked him to sign the menu with the crayon. He was caught by surprised and laughed. "This is definitely a first so yes I will haha." His mom offered a pen and I politely declined. His brother was chuckling a bit. I recognized him now and made mention to congratulate him on the Grey Cup victory. He was kinda surprised. He asked if I wanted him to sign as well. I said I would, but I don't know what I could really do with that in Southern California. So we all kind of laughed it off.

So the Getzlaf family is just a really nice bunch. Ryan, Chris, and their mom. Very cool.

The other was Colt Brennan. He went to the community college I'm at, Saddleback, and since he is on IR he came and visited a football game at the college. I noticed him and got an interview for a feature on our school newspaper (I'm the sports editor, so I thought it was a good idea. I got major props from the staff, but thats another story).

Anyway he's an OK guy. Surprisingly, for a kid from Laguna Beach and went to private school at Mater Dei and off to Hawaii, he sounds like a total hick. You thought just by talking to him that you'd find him in the backwoods of Alabama or something. He was alright. Felt like a lot of the cocky JuCo kids I've interviewed, which is weird considering he is a professional now. Didn't want to talk about his past, or why he had to come to Saddleback in the first place (the Colorado incident).

He was kinda meh. His parents were nice. But Colt Brennan, meh.

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A whole slew of Blue Jackets. During the lockout, some of the old veterans came to my side of town and rented ice in the rink in which my high school team played. Jody Shelley was the most frequent and he would let us play with him and his goalie after our practice was over. Great guy. I would like to hang out with him even if he weren't a professional athlete.

also once saw George Brett in an Orlando restaurant.

and this is the Ohio State heisman trophy section:

- Howard "Hopalong" Cassidy was the grandfather of these two boys that I went to middle school with. I met him at one of their birthday parties. He just seemed like an old man to me at the time, but looking back that was a pretty big deal.

- caddied for Eddie George in a celebrity pro-am. He is just as nice as they say he is.

- and the mother of them all. Archie Griffin sat in our box for the final game of the Frozen Four when it was held in Columbus a few years back. My neighbor works in the athletic department office at Ohio State and so does Archie. He was great. A super nice guy.

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Randy Moss: I met at an autograph signing for a charity basketball event. Got to VIP access with the players since I was on the school basketball team. He actually was a really nice and funny guy. His eyes were also bloodshot and he wasnt speaking the clearest haha. So once in a blue moon is a little more often that he led us on.

Daunte Culpepper: I have met multiple times. He used to be my uncles neighbor in Orlando so I have talked to him while he was watering his lawn and waxing his Impala. I also had the pleasure to be coached by him at the Tice Brothers football camp in St. Paul. He actually remembered who I was and who my uncle was and for a pro athlete I thought it was pretty neat.

Joe Mauer: He played in the same conference as my school and I met him at the Tice Brothers football camp as well when he was a Senior. The way he conducts him self in the media is exactly like his character. He is a real humble, down-to-earth, nice guy.

Adam Weber: I played against the gophers starting Quarterback in high school and played with him again at the Tice Brother football camp. I thought he was pretty cocky guy who didnt give anyone else the time of day at the camp.

Michael Floyd: Played against the Notre Dame receiver for 3 years. A TREMENDOUS ATHLETE. I had to cover him in my senior season and he was a beast. I held him to under 50 yards in the first half but he exploded on our other corners to finish the game with over 200 yards. He is also a pretty nice guy and came up to me after the game and said we had a nice battle.

Seantrel Henderson: Also played against the #1 recruit in the nation once.

Broderick Binns: Starting defensive end for the Iowa Hawkeyes. I played tight end as well and he was another force. Dude is tremendously strong and quick for being 260 lbs. He also chatted with me after the game saying I held up pretty well.

Michael Bennett: I was staying in the dorms during the Tice Brothers football camp and had met him earlier in the day. I was in line buying a smoothie at a frozen yogurt place and he came in line behind me. I started talking to him asking him about the NFL and stuff and he offered to buy the smoothie for me, which was pretty cool for a former pro bowl running back to do. He was a really cool guy.

Adrian Peterson: Met him in Mankato at a Kwik Trip. He was buying gum and gatorade and I obviously had to say something to the guy. He seemed really rushed and was kinda unpleasant but the dude is JACKED. He did offer me an autograph however.

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Just to add some spice to the thread, in my experience here are how the sports break down...

Hockey players: Easily the nicest bunch overall. I've never met a jackass hockey player.

Football players: It really depends on who you meet. For the most part my football experiences with players have been good ones.

Baseball players: Overall it's about 75-25. 75% of them are ass-hats. 25% aren't. It also seems that they're the worst in AAA.

Basketball players: 90-10 on this one. Mostly jerks.

NASCAR: They have to be cool. NASCAR dictates it so it's hard to say how "real" it is.

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I've met...

Bobby Hull... Really cool guy, was pretty excited that I had a Hull Blackhawks jersey, this was like 14 years old. He asked why I had it or if my dad made me get it and how I knew about him. I told him that I read a lot about him and saw a lot of videos. He got up from the table and posed for a few more pictured to the point where the promoter was telling him to wrap it up because there was a long line behind him.

Maurice Richard, another cool guy.

Ted Lindsay, great too... I met him when I was like 20 at a free signing. A little punk kid about 12 years old pushed a card in front of him and Ted (yeah we're on a first name basis lol)signed it. The kid rudely snapped it up and tried to leave. Ted stood up reached across the able and grabbed the kid by the scruff of his neck and asked him "what do you say when somebody does something nice for you"? The kid embarassingly said thank you and Ted said "Why you're welcome". The whole like bursted into applause.

Jean Beliveau, seemed really put off to be at the signing. Not a thank you or eye contact or anything.

Gordie Howe... I wore a Leafs jersey to this signing. He told me that the Leafs are a bunch of "bastards that won't do $hit for nobody. I was 13 at that signing, the promoter ended up giving me the autograph for free. I would have paid double just for the story.

Felix Potvin... This was in like '94 he was really quiet because he couldn't speak much English.

Mike Modano... Met him in the summer of '95. He was and is my favorite player ever but this was kind of disapointing. He basically sat there and signed what was in front of him.

Ric Flair... He was a really cool guy to meet. This was in like 1997. He signed a lot of autographs and posed for a bunch of pics.

Mike Keenan... 100% Awesome! I met him at the Hall of Fame. He was there with his girlfriend. Not only did he stop for pictures, he let me try on his Stanley Cup ring! I was 18 at the time. Of course he grabbed the back of my belt and held on so I couldnt run, but the guy was awesome!

-Dan

If I remember more I'll post it.

Edit:

Lou Ferrigno: Total Prick! I met him at the World Gym Owners banquet a few years back. He was such an a$$ that my friends and I wanted to pull a Sea Bass on him and stiff him with our drink bill since there was a cash bar. We ended up chickening out but tell me if we were able to pull that off that it would not be the greatest story ever.

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I've met quite a few college athletes, but I guess I'm not gonna talk about the ones from my hometown because I'm friends with them to begin with. Up at Syracuse it depends, all I know's a few female athletes which once again I won't really count and I had a few football and lacrosse players in my classes. The lacrosse guys can either be jackasses or really nice, though the ones I know are pretty friendly with me because of my background in the sport. The lacrosse team also enjoyed having someone who was attending the school who knew lacrosse talking to them about it during an autograph session when I had them sign a championship banner. Football players believe it or not keep a pretty low profile, but I must say kicker Ryan Litchenstein is a really nice kid and very humble too. I was the only one in my class to congratulate him on his game winning kick the following Tuesday after the Northwestern game and he actually was really appreciative and happy to sign his picture from the Syracuse Post Standard that day. I also went to a women's basketball game and I said hello to Greg Paulus and Jim Boeheim. Paulus likes to say hello and high five everyone and is a pretty nice guy, Boeheim as you would imagine was kinda smug and just gave a wave back, but that's kind of the reason why I like him anyway.

As for professional athletes, eh I haven't really met any. I did meet Mike Bossy, Bryan Trottier, and Bob Nystrom at the Islanders Draft Party and I must say they were all nice guys to meet and very happy to see everyone and they signed autographs for anyone who wanted them. Also met Kerry Rhodes at Jets training camp and he's alright, kinda the typical football player attitude I'd imagine.

Oh, and going into sportscasters, Bob Costas was really great to meet. He did a great lecture at Newhouse during homecoming weekend and really connected with us students and was very happy to talk with all of us afterwards. Completely the opposite of how I imagined he'd be in person.

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Dale Murphy: Growing up a Dodgers fan, I hated the Braves of the '80s. I had a predisposition to hate Bob Horner, Rafael Ramirez, Dale Murphy, and the whole Braves staff. I went to the All-Star Game in '99 for work and who walked by, but Dale Murphy. I gotta say, he was one of the nicest pro athletes I've ever met. We talked for some time while his kids played video games. Totally changed my opinion of the guy.

While working the ASG, I also had the pleasure of meeting the following: Ken Griffey Sr., Ken Griffey Jr., Phil Neikro, Carl Yastrzemski, Robin Yount, Jim Palmer, and Vida Blue. Griffey Sr. was great until I asked him for two autographed baseballs. I thought the man was gonna kill me right there with his tree trunk arms.

I've also met several local sports guys: Slick Watts, Xavier McDaniel, Detlef Schrempf, Jeff Kemp, and Todd Peterson.

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I saw McCarthy mentioned Eddie George and Archie Griffin. Eddie attended Ohio State at the same my girlfriend did.

(What? you people thought I'd be with someone who wasn't a Buckeye? :D) She said Eddie came to the yogurt shop where she worked every week. He was as nice as could be but she's a cute blond so that might have had something to do with it.

My girlfriend also met Archie Griffin at a corporate event she attended a few years ago. I asked her to get me Archie's autograph. She says that when she went up to him to ask for it he thought it was funny and asked her all sorts of questions about me etc. She says he was very accommodating and as friendly as they come. They talked for 5 or 10 minutes.

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Jim Kelly: One of my favorite athletes of all time for obvious reasons. I volunteered at his charity, Hunter's Hope, event. He went around to all the volunteers, talked to them for a while. A nice guy, but even if he is an :censored: I doubt he would be one to volunteers for his charity. I got a picture with him and a personalized signed football that I have displayed in my bedroom.

Rick Martin: I met him at a radio station function at a local restaurant. I was only 8 or 9 so I sat on his lap, got a picture taken and had him sign a card. He also talked to me for a while about hockey and why my favorite player was Dixon Ward and not him. Seemed like a nice guy but I don't really remember it happening.

I have "met" others at signings but nothing more than having them sign a card/picture.

I also see many "famous" athletes at work. I work at a supermarket and notice them often, mostly Bills since every single Buffalo Bill lives in my town or the one town over.

Pat Kaleta(only Sabre that lives near me because he was born a town over from me), Marcus Stroud, Steve Tasker, Lee Evans, Peerless Price, Justin Jenkins, Fred Jackson, Chris Denney, Paul Posluszny, Trent Edwards, Kawika Mitchell, and many more that I can't remember right now. However I do not usually talk to them because I am at work.

I also have seen Marshawn Lynch and his posse at Dave & Busters.

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Ric Flair... He was a really cool guy to meet. This was in like 1997. He signed a lot of autographs and posed for a bunch of pics.

Are we counting wrestlers? If so, I need to amend my list. rolleyes.gif

Wrestlers:

The Brood (David Heath is a pretty cool cat, Edge was nice guy, Christian was a bit of a jerk), Debra and Chyna, Jeff Jarrett, Big Show, The Rock, and Owen Hart. Somewhere I have a picture with Owen and Chyna. He's got the rabbit ears up behind me. It was a few weeks before he died. Super nice guy.

Biggest prick? Sean Waltman hands down. I felt like I needed to wash myself after I met him.

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My Dad's sports idol is Jean Beliveau, former star for the Montreal Canadiens. He was coming to a local restaurant for an autograph signing one night so my Dad took my family to go meet him. You had to buy tickets to get in, which included dinner, autographs, meet & greet, etc. We had been once before and met Henri Richard (very nice man), and standing in line was a pain, because there were no limits to the number of autographs you could request (so people brought their hockey card collections and got everyone signed I guess). As everyone finished dinner Beliveau walked in and everyone started getting up to line up. The MC for the night said "Stay seated where you are, Mr. Beliveau will come around to your tables." Fantastic!

It took a while but he finally got around to our table. My Dad was smiling like a little kid, meeting his idol for the first time (he was 45ish at the time). Beliveau is a large man for his era, and even though we were seated at a raised booth I had to look up to see him.

My brother, who was 6 or 7 at the time was staring at him, so my Dad looks at him and says "Do you know who this is?" Very emphatically my brother yes "Yeah." (like, duh Dad) "It's Jean Chretien!". I've never heard a louder, heartier laugh than Beliveau gave, I thought he was going to die laughing. He signed autographs for all of us, took the time to tell us little stories, and even listened to my Dad's tale about wrecking Larry Robinson's car at a garage he worked at in Lachute, QC. Great man, admirable sports legend for sure.

I've also met:

Hockey players; Guy Lafleur, Marcel Dionne, Henri Richard, Maurice Richard, Alex Delvecchio, Bob Baun, Johnny Bower. A whole handful of now NHLers before they went pro; Rick Nash, Patrick Kane, Sam Gagner, Rico Fata, James Wisniewski (was also at a mutual friend's wedding with a hot puck bunny). Everyone on the list was really friendly when I met them, very willing to sign autographs.

Nascar drivers; Jamie McMurray, David Ragan, Colin Braun.

Canadian boxing legend George Chuvalo.

Wrestler Bret "The Hitman" Hart.

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I have met quite a few due to signings that were set up by a store that my sister worked at for a while. The three that stick out in my mind are Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion, Peter Stastny, and Cammi Granato. Boom Boom was chatting with everyone and really seemed to be having a good time talking about the old days. Stastny appeared genuinely amazed that so many turned out to get his autograph even though he had been, at the time, recently elected to the Hall of Fame. He was really humble.

As for Granato, she seemed to enjoy the attention her and her teammates were getting after winning a gold medal at the Olympics (the signing was a few weeks after). I had asked if I could take a picture with her, and instead of just sitting and letting me kneel by her, she stood up and put her arm around me. She, along with the three others from the team that were signing that day, all took the time to be that personable. I believe that everyone there hoping to meet them really appreciated their friendliness.

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Now that Canada3421 mentioned lacrosse it jogged my memory of all the guys I've met in lacrosse.

I met Casey and Ryan Powell in my freshman year of high school. They were with the Anaheim Storm of the NLL at the time and they knew my coach. I was the only goalie on the team, and needless to say, I got to play the dummy for about 15 minutes. THey did so many stick tricks and ball tricks. In my first year of lacrosse and in Southern California, I had never seen anything even close to what they did. That messed me up man lol. But they say all goalies are a little weird in the head, so yeh :P

I met Tillman Johnson at a camp. He was with the LA Riptide of the MLL and it was kinda funny when I first met him. I didn't meet him on the field. We were in one of the dorm lounges at San Diego State, where the camp was, and we were watching the MLL Game of the Week. One of the other coaches said, "that was a pretty good game for ya huh?" and it clicked in my head. I knew who he was and he was sitting right there watching himself on TV. That was kinda surreal.

I also met Dan Loftus, Max Quinzani, and Zach Greer of Duke, Michael Govzden of Johns Hopkins, Kip Turner of Virginia and the Boston Cannons, and few others from some D-3 schools like Nazereth at this lacrosse camp I went to in Massachusetts. They were all really nice, and some kind of funny. They all were really intent on helping this poor kind from SoCal, saying that I've been exposed to such bad lacrosse lol. it was fun though.

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The only players I've met just finished their senior year at Indiana and will hopefully be in the NFL next year. The first is my cousin, Matt Mayberry, and he was middle linebacker. I can't give an unbiased assessment of him as a person, so I'll just say he's a great cousin. The other is defensive end, Jammie Kirlew. He stayed with my cousin when school had breaks because he lives in Florida. I've only met him once but we talked for a while, and he's a great guy.

My dad met Jim McMahon in 1983. They were in Green Bay to see the Bears game and were in the hot tub at a hotel the Saturday night before the game. McMahon came in the hot tub and talked with the four college kids from Illinois for 3 hours before a Sports Illustrated writer pulled him out to interview him or something. They woke up the next morning because of the noise in the room above. They looked up from the deck outside to see Walter Payton and Matt Suey.

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Here is a good list of mine:

Hank Aaron: Came to Troy to speak when I was in 6th grade. Even ran into him in the parking lot when me and my mom were on the way back to the car. seemed like an okay guy.

DeMarcus Ware: Was his manager my first year at Troy (I worked with the DL as an undergrad). Most notable moment was when I accidentally stood in his path to the tackling dummy during pass run. Even though he didn't quite hit me at full speed, he still sent me flying backwards five yards. He has come to visit us at the hotel whenever we have stayed in the Dallas area when we are playing North Texas on the road. Still the same humble, down-to-earth guy that he was at Troy.

Charles Barkley: Met him Monday night when he was at our hotel to speak at the Mayor's Luncheon for the GMAC Bowl. He was watching the Fiesta Bowl at the hotel bar with another person (I would assume his agent). He seemed like he was just minding his own business, but he was still willing to talk. He didn't seem much for small talk, so I just stayed long enough to talk briefly about his upcoming hosting gig on SNL, get his autograph, and go back.

Falcons players: As some of you may know, I had the opportunity to work training camp for the Atlanta Falcons for three weeks in 2007. It was, overall, a great experience. Some favorites of mine were Joey Harrington, Warrick Dunn, Billy Cundiff, Roddy White, and Tyson Clabo. I had very good experiences with all of them who were there at the time with the exception of DeAngelo Hall. He was such a jerk. Lawyer Milloy wasn't a favorite of mine, either. But, other than that, all of the others such as Keith Brooking, Joe Horn, and Alge Crumpler were really nice to me.

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Being from Tampa, most of these are (former) Buccaneers players, but anyway, here goes:

Brad Johnson: I went to his football camp in 2002 (the summer between 8th and 9th grade). He was very involved with it, which apparently is not all that common in celebrity sports camps from what I hear. Anyway, I hurt my wrist halfway through, and he always made an effort to come up and talk to me and see how I was doing. Really nice guy.

Marcus Jones: He's a former D-lineman for the Bucs. He made a guest appearance at Brad Johnson's camp, and helped one of the coaches of my group. He was pretty cool too.

Urban Meyer: My frat helped out at his golf tournament in 2008, and he posed for pictures with a lot of my frat brothers (unfortunately, I was away giving snacks out to the golfers). When I was there, he came by to where we were sitting and thanked us again for helping out.

Tim Tebow: I was walking to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (or The Swamp) to pick up a ticket for an upcoming football game in 2007. There's an alley between one of the classroom buildings and the stadium. As I'm walking across that alley, Tim Tebow speeds through it on his moped, and I had to run out of the way to avoid getting hit. Obviously we didn't say anything to each other, but I think it's still a cool story.

Kevin Stevens (former Penguins LW): He's actually married to my cousin, so he's family. When they come down to visit, he's always really nice. But that could be family-bias on my part.

I've met quite a few other athletes at autograph signings, such as: Derrick Brooks, Donnie Abraham, Shaun King, Martin Gramatica, Michael Pittman, Michael Clayton, and parts of the 2006 UF football team. I didn't talk to these guys, so I don't know if they're jerks or not.

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I think all of mine are Jazz or college players, but here are the ones off the top of my head:

Jazz Players at one Time:

Karl Malone--Came to my hometown when I was about 9-10, signed memrobilia

Isaac Austin--Was with Malone

Thurl Bailey--Came for a basketball mini-camp in my hometown when I was about 12-13, and I was in crutches. I was able to stand up with him, and he said that I had "extra support" to shoot the ball. Shook my hand, and I got a picture with him.

College Players:

Jaycee Carroll (sp?)--Signed a couple of Utah State towels after his last regular-season home game.

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