I know. I get it.
They're professionals. We see them on TV. They're worth more money than the aggregate gross national products of every Third World country worldwide.
So, of course I was excited when the Denver Nuggets graced us with their presence in our small-town Durango, and, yes, it was especially cool sitting courtside during their open scrimmage and seeing what a real 6-foot-11 human being looked like in person.
Still, my dungarees are dry.
About three months later, I was enjoying one of the fine 38 beers on tap at Lady Falconburgh's Barley Exchange with a few friends. It was Smithwick's, I believe, a fine Irish red ale. (The W is silent for all you nonconnoisseurs.) This guy approached me at the bar, even interrupted my turn at Ship, Captain, Crew in midroll. I paraphrase: "Aren't you the guy that works for the Herald?"
Always a question that makes me shudder, because that particular question usually precedes a malicious, never mild-mannered, complaint.
I cannot tell a lie.
He said, again, I paraphrase: "Right, you're that sports reporter that acted like you didn't give a (expletive) that the Nuggets were in town."
I am not a combative man, not even argumentative at the least, but this guy had it coming.
I'll spare you the details, but, as I tried mightily to explain to this individual, shaking Carmelo Anthony's hand is not the highlight of my existence.
Man to man, Melo is a professional basketball player, and I'm a sports writer. Melo makes a lot of money. I don't. Melo has a swimming pool full of money. I ... don't have a swimming pool. In fact, I live in an old rustic (or is it rusty?) cabin that belonged to a ranch hand near the turn of the century - last century, as in 19th-cum-20th century, which is an upgrade from my previous lodgings.
This story isn't about me, though. It's not about Melo. It's not about that one guy, either.
It's about Larry Fitzgerald.
(Curious way to start a column about an NFL wide receiver, I know.)Fitzgerald, not unlike most professional athletes, comes with baggage - an alleged domestic disturbance against an Oakland Raiders' cheerleader, also the mother of his child, is the skeleton in his closet.
I most definitely will not deify this man, because, well I don't know this man. However, I will applaud Fitzgerald for being a bastion of good will among his gluttonous brethren.
Fitzgerald, a member of the most elitist prima dona society in the National Football League, if not all of professional sports, actually proved it possible for a richer-than-thou wide receiver to use his heart to think lucidly, rationally.
Fitzgerald, he of the same position as the Keyshawns, the TOs, the Supermans and the Plaxicos, actually wants to give away his money. In an attempt to keep teammate and pending free agent Anquan Boldin as the Robin to his Batman, Fitz wants to restructure his contract to aid both Boldin and the Birds.
He said what?
"If it was to keep my brother Q here, or anybody else here, I would definitely help out. Being in the cellar of the NFL for so long, this right here (being in the Super Bowl) is such an honor. To be playing in such a great game, anything I can do to help."