This week I watched an NFL Network special on former San Francisco 49ers owner, Eddie DeBartolo Junior called “Eddie DeBartolo: A Football Life.” What touched me was DeBartolo’s loving relationship with his players; stars like Joe Montana, Dwight Clark and the late Freddy Solomon considered him a friend. He was described as a gracious owner, one who really took care of his team and staff, whether it was the way the players traveled, where they stayed or where they practiced. He made people feel important!
In October, 1989, I had my own encounter with Edward J. DeBartolo, Jr. while I was covering a 49ers football game. DeBartolo greeted me in the media room and spent a few minutes getting to know me. That was nice, but it’s what he did as a follow up that amazed me! A few days after our meeting, I received a letter from him, telling me it was “very nice running into me at the game and that if I ever needed anything from the 49ers Public Relations Department, players or staff, that I was to give him a call.” I have a feeling that wasn’t the first time DeBartolo reached out to a reporter in that way.
I framed DeBartolo’s letter because it was a rarity. In almost twenty years of covering both the NFL and the NBA, only two other owners or coaches ever wrote me a note and those are framed as well. One of those notes came from a coach after he was fired, thanking me for my coverage, the ultimate act of humility.
Why is it that we’re unable to show kindness in this way anymore? Before you think I am judging anyone, I am guilty!
I rarely mail a personal note. E-mails are so much easier, but there is still something special about the letter. Snail mail has become a daily disappointment, full of bills and advertisements. When an occasional thank-you note makes its way into my mailbox, it’s the first thing I open. What about you?
As Christians we are to live out Colossians 3:12: Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.
Watching “Eddie DeBartolo: A Football Life” reminded me that one of the ways I can clothe myself with kindness is by showing people how much I appreciate them through a letter or hand-written note.
What about you? Who do you need to write today? Your note could make a life-long impact on someone’s life and maybe….. they’ll even frame it.
Lisa Burkhardt Worley