Here's a good one: Mizzou lost to Nebraska in football in 1999. It could have been a competitive game. Long snapper Ben Davidson had a couple costly snaps early in the game that were back-breaking plays. The loss wasn't his fault entirely by any means, but those snaps made it virtually impossible for Mizzou to come back and win. Of course, all the reporters wanted to talk to Ben after the game. I was still a student but working at the Columbia Tribune as the No. 2 football writer. I was assigned to write the Davidson sidebar. I didn't think he'd talk to the media. He not only did, but he was fantastic. Incredibly candid, emotional but just really impressive in how he handled the moment. Two people were responsible for that moment.
1. Ben, obviously. Many, many athletes in his position prefer to stay in the locker room instead of facing the music, which is OK, too.
2. Vahe Gregorian, who was at the Post-Dispatch at the time. We were all huddled around Ben who was sitting in a chair. So we were all literally looking down on him - as if he didn't feel enough shame in the moment. Vahe did something that I'll never forget - and it might have been just a happy accident. He got down on one knee so he could look Ben in the eyes when he asked him the questions. To me, it was a brilliant example of empathy and sent a message that he wasn't here to rip the player or insult him in any way. He wanted to get into his heart and his mind at an incredibly vulnerable moment. It remains the single-most impressive post-game interview I've ever seen from a college athlete.
Ben lives here in town - I've coached against him in little league baseball - but I'm sure he has no idea how that moment resonated with me as a reporter. Good stuff.