Some may call it being star-struck, I prefer to call it “extreme reverence.” There are two times in my life when I have seen it in full effect and it was something I will never forget.
Years ago before the S.E.C. Women’s basketball tournament in Nashville, I got word that the Tennessee Lady Vols would be practicing at Trevecca’s gym the day before they played. I grabbed a T.V. camera and headed over to tape some practice for the news and maybe interview Pat Summitt. There were about twenty-five people in the gym that day and as the team was practicing, I was talking to a few folks on the side when that extreme reverence happened.
In walked the legend that was Pat Summitt and everyone in the gym, just stared and no one said a word. I will never forget that moment as long as I live. Yes, we had seen her on T.V. and at games coaching but this was different. I am not sure I can accurately put into words what I witnessed and felt.
She was extremely gracious when we interviewed her and we stayed at practice to get some video and I remember looking around and more people had come into the gym, taking pictures and just staring. An amazing moment.
A few years before that, a similar incident happened and this time it was a packed dining hall at Hermitage Golf Course for a big event honoring a local charity, Backfield In Motion. We had golfed that morning and came into hear some guest speakers and eat lunch. The seat next to me was empty and I was excited because I was going to have an extra plate to eat at lunch.
I didn’t get my extra plate and that was perfectly fine, because what happened next was surreal. I was with a friend and he hits me on the shoulder and says, “Oh my gosh, is that Jim Brown?” No, Jim Brown was not at this luncheon because it would have been all the talk and then a guy at our table says, “Hey, I think Jim Brown is sitting with us.”
He stood at the door as he was waiting for someone to tell him wear to sit and then a hush fell across this room as he made his way through.
Extreme reverence was palpable that day. Exactly like Pat Summitt, everyone was staring and no one was saying a word. “Excuse me, gentlemen, but is this my seat?” And just like Bobby Brady with my voice breaking, “Yes sir, right here. Welcome.”
As you can see in the pic, he was right next to us. He was one of the nicest and most genuine men I had ever met. Believe it or not, we spent more talking about Syracuse Lacrosse than anything else. (Jim Brown was an All-American football player and lacrosse player in college.)
Now, that would have been a highlight in itself but what Jim Brown did next, was something I will never forget and glad my friend Greg was with me to witness this moment.
I, being the pop culture savant, had to ask him about being in The Dirty Dozen. He was telling us about all that happened behind the scenes and in the middle, a metro councilman that I won’t name, walked up and interrupted him.
Not once, but twice. That second time, Mr. Brown was not going to have it anymore.
“Do you see I am talking to these fine men? Do you see that? Do you? You will wait your turn, as anyone with courtesy will do, until we are finished talking. Do you understand? Do you? You do not interrupt me or anyone until they are finished talking? Understand?”
Not only was the entire dining hall looking over, but I am sure most of Nashville heard him admonishing the councilman.
He looks at us and says, “I am so sorry that he interrupted us and thank you for your patience,” and continues on telling us about the movie. When he was done, he found the councilman and said, “Sir, did you have a question for us?”
Pretty sure I will go the rest of my life and never see extreme reverence again in that form and that is just fine.
A moment when they all stared and no one said a word.