Ask Nicely Or Be Ready To Duck!

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Ask Nicely Or Be Ready To Duck!
(Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

In my capacity as a freelance writer, one of my responsibilities is to conduct post-game interviews of players and coaches. This is usually an enjoyable task, although sometimes interviewing coaches whose teams came up on the short end of the score should merit hazard pay.

Theses coaches may be upset with their team, the officials, parents, themselves, or all of the above. Their anger may be directed towards an impartial participant (i.e. an unsuspecting sports reporter just trying to earn a little stringer money).

For a reporter, there are certain players that you dream about having the opportunity to interview one-on-one. For me that dream interview would be with Panther WR Steve Smith (after a Carolina win in which he had a great game, of course).

Smith is one of the NFL’s brightest stars. His athletic skills are enormous, but what makes Smith a “cut-above” player is his intense desire to win. This intensity has boiled over several times and caused Smith’s reputation to become jaded.

In 2002 Smith was involved in an altercation with teammate Anthony Bright during a film-room session. Bright suffered a broken nose and spent two nights in a local hospital following this scuffle. Smith was penalized by the team with a one-game suspension.

Last year Smith’s temper again got the best of him and he attacked teammate Ken Lucas, leaving Lucas with a broken nose and earning Smith a two-game suspension.

You can understand my anticipation and yet my apprehension in approaching an interview with the volatile all-star WR. Smith is someone that you don’t want to catch on a bad day.

If this dream interview ever transpired, there are several questions I would like to ask him.

þ  Who has had the greatest impact on your life as a person?

þ  Who has had the greatest impact on your life as an athlete?

þ  Who is your favorite NFL player of all time?

þ  Who do you try to model your game after?

þ  Is there someone (family, friend, coach) who has inspired you to become the player you have become?

þ  What is your personal highlight from this past year?

þ  What are some aspects of your game that you need to improve on?

þ  We all have personal struggles. What one thing about yourself would you change if you could?

þ  Which teammate has been the biggest inspiration to you?

þ  You have dealt with anger issues, both on and off the field, in the past. What have you done to keep your temper in check?

þ  What are your expectations for the Panthers in 2009?

þ  What are your personal goals for this season?

þ  How would you like to be remembered when your playing career is over?

þ  What are your post-NFL plans? Where do you see yourself 20 years from now?

þ  What are your priorities in life?

þ   If you could give any advice based on your own life experiences to the younger generation, what would it be?

I would ask all of the questions with a pleasant look on my face. I would address Smith as “Mr. Smith.” I would even call him “Sir.”

I would take all of these precautions, but still be ready to duck!

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