This past Tuesday, I asked you all about your best stories about meeting an NFL. The stories were all great so here are a few of our favorites!
While in college I worked at a wine bar at the John Wayne Airport, so I saw some athletes pass through.
Champ Bailey- he regularly flew out of John Wayne and the terminal that he used was nearly always in front of the wine bar, so I saw him the most, but I never interacted with him since he didn’t come to the bar. However, what I remember about him was that he had great fan interactions, I don’t remember a single bad one. Usually, it was just fans going up to him (many Chargers fans) and telling him how great a player he is/was. I remember him just looking honored by the amount of praise that he received. I don’t recall fans being bothersome to him, usually just a quick interaction so I’m glad to say that people were very respectful to him.
Mark Sanchez- he would come into the wine bar and sit in the back, not wanting to be disturbed and he asked that we help him keep some privacy. He didn’t mind at all when it was a female fans approaching him though.
I had 2 really great experiences of meeting NFL players and 1 of meeting a coach.
1) My dad had a pool service/repair business in Rancho Santa Fe. One of the pools was at a rental house owned by one of his customers. I worked with him summers, etc. We were at the house doing the pool when the new tenant came out to say Hi to my dad. After a few minutes, my dad called me over to introduce me to Johnny Unitas who had been traded to the Chargers that year (1973). I think he only played in 3 games.
2) I was in college at Mira Costa JC. Some of my friends were on the football team and I hooked up with them at lunch one day. A man approached our table and asked to sit with us, we were all shocked at who it was. He was looking for Willie Buchanan to offer him a scholarship to SDSU. The man was Don Coryell. He sat with us until Willie showed up.
3) In the later years of my career I was traveling all over the world. I had a flight home to San Diego from Atlanta one night that got postponed, first by a thunderstorm and second by a medical issue on board. It didn’t leave until 5:30 a.m. the next morning. I had been upgraded to First Class and was excited by that but I was even more excited that the person in the seat next to me was Drew Brees. I still have the signed ticket. That was just before his Super Bowl winning season.
I was at the Chargers rally at the Forum. Verrett was a nice guy and MG3 was not the brightest guy. He tried to sign an item twice. When he saw his own signature, he handed it back. Roger Goodell tried to steal my sharpie. I chewed him out and didn’t let him.
Brandon Mebane was super humble and stayed longer than anyone else. Signing items and taking pictures. I have one of him and I. When he called it quits for the day, there was a round of applause. He deserved it.
A bunch of players left in limos. Turns out that Mebane was parked 2 spaces away from me with a very modest car and he said thanks for the support.
PR17 didn’t mingle. He got into a regular dad pickup truck and just rolled out of the parking lot.
When I was about 7, I went to a game at Qualcomm with my uncle who was best friends with Lorenzo Neal’s cousin. Got to go back after the game and meet Neal, LT, Gates, and Rivers. Got an autograph from each one! I’ll never forget it.
Randall Cunningham at Starbucks in Vegas or Dan Fouts and his wife at the Comedy Store in La Jolla.
Both were super cool guys, down to earth. I think Dan was amused by my non-stop fervently shaking his hand, his wife was almost laughing.
This is more of a story about not meeting a NFL player.
I was at a mall and saw Melvin Ingram waiting around with a few of his friends. This was his 1st, maybe 2nd year with the team. I am not someone who is comfortable walking up to a celebrity when they are out and about, especially if they are with a group of friends. So instead of being a normal person and either saying something or walking away, I stared. I was with my girlfriend and kept just saying, “That’s Melvin Ingram.... hey hey look, it’s Ingram”. Soon he noticed me and after catching me looking at him for the umpteenth he said something to his friends and they walked away and I never saw him again.
It was not my proudest moment, and ironically I tried so hard not to bother him, I bothered him enough to leave the shop.
Rough day all around.
I was in Cabo with my family in a van on the way to a horse back riding tour. I have my Charger hat on and woman behind me says, “Chargers, why do you Iike the Chargers?”. I turn around and say i was born in SD….I then ask, what team should I like? She says, the “Broncos”. I ask, why the Broncos? She says, “My husband played for them”, he’s next to her with a smirk. Turns out it is Dennis Smith, long time Safety. We all end up on the tour together, exchange numbers and communicate all the time. They came to my 40th birthday and we go up to LA for her birthday every year and I get to have some drinks with Dennis, Karl Mecklenburg, Mike Harden and others depending the day. They are such great people, stories are amazing
Come back on Tuesday for our next community discussion!