Over the last 45 years I’ve seen a lot of athletes compete, coaches coach, announcers announce, reporters report, and managers manage.
During that time I have interviewed and covered more sports figures than I can begin to count. While covering games has always been a huge part of the job, the thing I have enjoyed the most is the in-depth interviews. Not just a few quick questions at the end of a game along with other reporters, or a few minutes on the phone. But I real sit-down and let’s talk about it conversation.
As my career winds down there are several people I would love to sit down and talk with for a couple hours. I wouldn’t be taking notes, somebody else can do that if they wish. I would just love to pick their brains, learn from their experiences, get to know them personally, and find out some things I didn’t know,
I thought I could make a list of 12. Nope, that didn’t work. Then I tried for 24. Again, not even close.
So instead of one column, this topic will likely show up every couple of months as I continue to crank out the copy as my career winds down.
The only guidelines is that they have to be people I have actually seen in person. Some may know me personally, while others may not have any idea who I am. Others I may have covered as a sports journalist, others I may have watched as a fan.
In this column I will share a dozen of those coveted potential interviews. They are not in any particular order and or not necessarily in my personal top 12.
— The Manning Family. Not just Archie, Peyton, or Eli, but Cooper and Olivia as well. How interesting would that be? Just hanging out with the “First Family of Football” for two hours with no questions off limits. To me the most interesting point of view of all would likely come from Olivia.
— Archie ‘The Gunslinger’ Cooley. One of the most interesting college football coaches I’ve ever met. He was the mastermind behind the rise of Mississippi Valley State football team during an era when Jackson State, Grambling, and Alcorn were dominating the SWAC. He was interesting to hear speak and would be incredible to actually sit down with.
— Dale Murphy. Certainly one of my favorite baseball players of all-time but also an incredible person. It would be intriguing to hear his views on life and the state of baseball.
— Marcus Dupree. Absolutely one of the best running backs I’ve ever seen play. I was blessed to be there for his first high school touchdown and his first professional touchdown as a member of the New Orleans Breakers of the USFL. I would love to personally hear him tell the story of his life.
— Jack Nicklaus. One of the greatest golfers of all time. I was blessed to be there when he won the Masters in 1986, but his story certainly is deeper than that one moment in time.
— Shaquille O’Neal. He was just a freshman at LSU when I first saw him play at the Humphrey Coliseum when the MSU Bulldogs hosted the Tigers. You can tell right then that he was a man among boys even though he was just 18-years-old at the time. His relationship with former LSU coach Dale Brown was a special one and Shaq remains in the limelight today, cranking out commercials left and right.
— Andy Kennedy. The first time I ever talked to the current UAB head basketball coach and former Ole Miss head man he was just 8-years-old. I coached him one season in little league baseball and covered him when he played high school basketball and later as he coached the Rebels. But there is so much I would love to ask him, if given the opportunity to just sit down and talk.
— Herschel Walker. He is one of the most amazing athletes I’ve ever seen. When I saw him play as a freshman at Georgia it was easy to know that he was special. One of the greatest combinations of size, speed, and power I’ve ever seen.
— Rafael Palmeiro and Will Clark. Mississippi State’s “Thunder and Lightning” formed perhaps the greatest one-two punch in the history of college baseball. The Mississippi State legends have interesting personal stories, but to hear them tell their stories at the same time, in the same room would be incredible. There is so much life and baseball to peel out of those two guys.
– Tierra McCowan. The former Mississippi State women’s basketball star is an amazing story. In four years she went from being an awkward teen-ager with great size, to one of the best players in the country. Her transformation was amazing to see and her story would be incredible to hear her share.
— Rick Cleveland. Rick is one of greatest sports columnists the state of Mississippi has ever know. He has conducted many interviews with the greatest athletes this state has ever known. What an honor it would be to sit down and hear his personal story face-to-face. The stories he could tell would be riveting.
— John McEnroe. Undoubtedly one of the best and most volatile tennis players of all time. I had the chance to cover him when he played an exhibition match in Jackson, but it would be great to find out what really make him who is was and is.
Well, that’s 12 down and next time around I will throw another dozen out there. Who knows who may be on the next list, it may even be someone you would like to have a conversation with yourself.
Austin Bishop, AKA The Old Sports Dude, has been covering high school, college, amateur and professional sports since 1975. He is currently pastor of Great Commission Assembly of God in Philadelphia, Miss. He may be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.