Famous Sports Stars I Have Met: The All-Star Team of Nice Guys

Scott EngelCorrespondent IFebruary 20, 2009

Currently, I am proud to say I am a Senior Fantasy Writer at www.RotoExperts.com. I work with a great group of people. They are humble, hard-working and fun to be around.

Many of my days are spent working with our great Diamond Draft Fantasy Baseball Software and writing about fantasy football, baseball, and NASCAR.

I hope to spend the rest of my very rewarding career at this fine and fast-growing company. It's exciting to be part of something that is becoming so rapidly successful.

It has been quite a journey to get to RotoExperts, where I feel comfortable and glad to contribute every day, knowing I am dedicated to helping fantasy players everywhere. I have also been very fortunate in my career, having the opportunity to work for ESPN for four years and CBS Sportsline for eight.

During my college days, I worked at Madison Square Garden. So in my travels, I have encountered many prominent sports stars.

In this age of the A-Rod scandal and tell-all books, we must be reminded of athletes who make fine role models and are good people. I have been very fortunate to meet many sports stars over the years, both as a professional and as a fan.

When you start losing faith in the sports figures that we so admire, I can tell you for a fact these guys didn't let me down when I had the opportunity to meet them.

Here are the best of the best, the players that deserve all the accolades laid on them, because they are just good people.

I speak from my own personal experiences. I hope yours can be as pleasant. These are people just like us, in the end, but it's simply cool to meet someone you admire and have a nice experience.

Jeff Gordon

I am glad my 14-year-old son Sean has picked him as his favorite sports figure. I've met Jeff more than once, and the last time I did, he said "nice to see you again," which took me by surprise, considering all the people Jeff meets.

That's the measure of someone of high character, when they meet hordes of people every day, and take the time to acknowledge others as much as they can. Hopefully, one day Sean will get a chance to say hi, too.

Bernard King

In high school, he was my idol. I used to go to tons of New York Knicks games, and always waited outside after games to talk to Bernard, and he always made time for me.

He really appreciated his fans and when he met my father, he said "you have a very nice son."

Thurman Thomas

Possibly the most down-to-earth athlete I have ever met. The guy is a Hall of Famer, and he treats people like next-door neighbors. He clearly never let all his success to go to his head (or helmet). I wish he would have won a Super Bowl, he deserved it.

Julius Erving

Was remembered mostly for being classy, and when I met him outside MSG late one afternoon as a teen, he was a real gentleman.

Michael Jordan

I only met him briefly, in his rookie year, but he's the same affable person you always see on TV.

Keith Hernandez

Met him more than once, and he was a class act each time. Truly appreciated the fact that I was a lifelong Mets fan, and was only too glad to show me his championship ring and personalize an autograph.

Ron Darling

Another guy that showed me that the 1980s Mets could be a bunch of frat boys, but also respected and took the time for their fans.

Doc Gooden was also really nice to his fans, and any problems he was having never affected his manners in public. One of the most courteous superstars I've ever seen.

George Gervin

Also met him as a teen, and he said "Good afternoon young man, how are you today?"

Hines Ward

He was wearing a Sanford and Son t-shirt. We both had a good laugh about the "big dummy."

Jeff Burton

Many NASCAR drivers will agree, Jeff is a very likable fellow.

Lou Pinella

We were on the same flight to Tampa recently. My grandfather used to be a driver for prominent people back in NY in the '70s, and Lou was among them. He remembered my grandfather, and we had a really nice chat.

Bobby Bonilla

This one will surprise a lot of you. But I interviewed him twice, and both times, he was a very nice fellow. Maybe it's because we share similar interests? Bobby is a devoted KISS fan.

Oronde Gadsden

I am glad to say the former Miami Dolphins WR is a good friend. Many people in South Florida still show him a lot of love, and he returns it.

Harmon Killebrew

A great public speaker, just as friendly one-on-one.

Butch Huskey

When my son was four, we were at spring training. The former Met pulled a baseball out of his warmup, told the people in front of us to move aside, and directly handed my son his first-ever autographed item.

My son's not an autograph seeker by any means, but that one was special.

Tony Richardson

One of the best fullbacks in recent years, he really appreciates the fans who play fantasy football, even though he was rarely drafted.

Ryan Grant

A very humble guy, makes you want to root for him.

Steven Jackson

When he is in a room, everyone wants to talk to him. And he seems eager to want to get to know people, too.

John Starks

He is a legend in New York, and certainly appears very thankful for his place in the hearts of the locals.

William "The Refrigerator" Perry

He really enjoys a hearty laugh, and wants you to laugh with him.

Antonio Pierce

Really enjoys talking to the fans, whether they be diehards or those who don't know too much about him when his helmet is off.

Chris Warren

The former Seahawks running back was an underrated star, and when I interviewed him after his second big game in two years that I covered, he jokingly offered me season tickets.

Lonnie Shelton

The father of NFL offensive lineman L.J. Shelton and a former NBA All-Star. I actually had dinner with him one time in New York with some mutual friends.

If his teammates were out partying, he wasn't interested. He just wanted to hang out in the hotel and have an interesting conversation. He then went back to his room, where he watched Rocky III on TV before the night was over.

Ken Norton

The former champ seems very happy when he is out in public.

Bill Cartwright

One of the nicest big fellas you could ever meet. I was very happy for him when he enjoyed success with the Bulls.

Tom Jackson

Will gladly talk the X's and O's with you. Just ask.

Ron Jaworski

Actually met him after my ESPN tenure. You couldn't help but be happy for him when he saw his Philadelphia Soul win the most recent Arena Football League championship.

Harold Reynolds 

It's good to see him on the MLB Network, he was a real cool guy when I used to cross paths with him.

Brent Jones

The former 49ers tight end is simply "good people." It was a real treat to play fantasy football with him.

Darryl Strawberry

New York still loves him, and he is thankful the town still does. He gives the love right back to the fans these days.

Patrick Ewing

When I worked at MSG, I remember my last day. I got out of the elevator, and Ewing was getting on. I was getting used to saying hi to him and him greeting me in return. When I told him I was moving on, he asked why, and wished me the best of luck.

Well, there are certainly some more I may have forgotten. And there's the really cool people who cover the games, like Peter King and the current and former front office guys like Gil Brandt and Randy Mueller.

Even the non-sports celebs I have met who have been really a pleasure to meet, such as Peter Criss, LL Cool J, and Bernie Mac, could take up another amount of significant space.

It's nice to know there are good people in all walks of life. I judge people as individuals when I meet them, whether they are famous or not. We shouldn't get star-struck or overzealous when we meet people we admire.

Everyone seems to want a piece of them. I think telling someone that you appreciate them and getting kindness in return is more valuable than any autograph.

And you don't have to be a star to make a difference in someone's life by giving them the respect and attention they deserve.

Thanks for reading. See you in the fantasy draft rooms!


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