Monday, October 4, 2010

Some heroes wear a cape, others carry a microphone

While watching last night's Giants game they popped up a shot of Andy Robustelli, their great defensive end from the 50's and 60's.

And just like that, I was a star-struck eight year old.

Even at that age I had become a football Giants diehard. One Saturday morning my dad announced he was taking me to get a football helmet. What I didn't know was that Robustelli owned a sporting goods store and actually worked there in the offseason. So when we walked in and were greeted by one of my heroes, my jaw dropped. My hand disappeared into his and he led me through the store, then personally took plenty of time fitting me with a helmet as he told me I'd make a great Giants player in the future.

Can you picture any of today's millionaire athletes doing that?

At halftime they showed Frank Gifford, and that took me back two years to the time I had to call him for an interview for my book. Again, the jaw dropped when he actually called back. No secretary, no assistant. Frank Gifford actually picked up the phone and called me.

Sometimes heroes are who you expect them to be.

Flash forward to a few weeks ago, as I was back doing more oil spill stories, though this time the focus was on the claims process. We were setting up in a packed meeting hall, filled with a thousand people whose lives had been devastated. They were looking for a lifeline while their lives were tied up with bureaucratic red tape. Some had lost a business, some had lost a home, some had lost both and were sleeping in their cars while waiting for a check that might never come.

At one point a woman came up to me and shook my hand. "Thank you for coming," she said. "You're all we've got left."

When you hear something like that, you can't help but go the extra mile doing a story. And if you don't, you don't belong in this business.

We have an incredible ability to change lives in this business. To make a difference.

Sometimes you might just think you're doing your job, and then you find out something simple you've done has totally changed the life of someone else. Your story might bail out someone in need, raise money for a good cause, or simply inspire someone to take their lives in a different direction. You might do a career day talk and launch the next great reporter, who will change lives in the future. You might expose the bad guys and make them pay, bring an injustice to light, promote a good idea that becomes a life-saving law.

There are plenty of life changing stories out there. When you find one, you're a superhero for a day.

So this week, how about making a difference?


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