By Danny Picard
BOSTON — They say you should never meet your heroes.
I’ve spent enough time around pro sports teams to know that’s true.
As a green and still-starstruck reporter from 2009-2013, I was in locker rooms, dressing rooms, and clubhouses — for home and away teams — every single day, covering some of my favorite athletes, managers, and coaches. I’ve been humiliated by Terry Francona, yelled at by Jason Varitek, disrespected by Dustin Pedroia, mocked by Tim Thomas, put in my place by Marc Savard, and laughed at by Randy Moss. I don’t have enough time to list it all.
To be fair to one of those players I just called out, Varitek did apologize to me in the Red Sox’ clubhouse — after a game — for snapping back after I asked a question about the historic number of stolen bases they had just allowed to the Texas Rangers. He went out of his way to find me, put his hand on my shoulder, and say he was sorry.
It was something he didn’t have to do. I get it. I was a reporter asking a question about a touchy subject immediately after an emotional game. He didn’t even know who the hell I was, but he still felt the need to find me and offer an apology. I’ll always admire him because of it.
You know who would never have to apologize for something like that?
Everyone knows what type of player and person Bergeron is. You don’t need me to tell you he’s a future Hall of Famer, or that his No. 37 will one day be raised to the TD Garden rafters, or that he was one of the most respected leaders a professional sports organization will ever see. We all witnessed it.
But after having spent so much time inside the Bruins’ dressing room over the span of five years at their old Ristuccia Arena practice facility and at the TD Garden, I was able to also witness Bergeron’s greatness behind the scenes.
I don’t really have any mind-blowing stories to prove this. You just have to trust that I’m a good judge of character, especially given everything you already know about “Bergy.”
And honestly, in a perfect world, it really shouldn’t be a big deal that a pro athlete is constantly respectful and approachable to everyone he comes across. But I’ve spent enough time around these pro athletes to know that, unfortunately, the really good ones do need to be amplified and praised.
One specific example I do remember, is showing up a little late to an optional skate at Ristuccia, and walking into a Bergeron media scrum inside the dressing room as he was just wrapping up his post-skate session with reporters. I can’t recall the exact situation, but not many other players were around, so I believe he was nearing a return from some type of injury.
As Bergeron was leaving the scrum and I was walking into it a little too late, I tried to see if I could get him for a few quick questions. It was clear he was in a rush and had to be somewhere. I don’t know if he needed to go get treatment, or talk with someone in the organization, or something else. But he could’ve easily just told me he already talked to the media for the day and that was it. Instead, he told me he’d be right back.
So I waited around the corner, in the hallway next to the stick rack, and a few minutes later, Bergeron walked over and I asked him what I needed to ask. The exact content of this conversation escapes me years later, but I do recall feeling as if we spoke for 10 minutes, only to look down at my recorder afterwards and see that, surprisingly, it was actually no more than two minutes.
The length of the conversation is irrelevant though, as are its details. The point is, Bergeron didn’t have to come back and do the interview. And since he did, he had every right to make sure PR Directors Matt Chmura and Eric Tosi were overseeing it. But neither of them were hovering over us.
I was a nobody. Had I tried this with any other star player, on any other team in town that I covered, I can promise you that this situation would’ve played out much differently, and perhaps not at all.
Do you think Tom Brady would’ve come back and given me an extra two minutes of his time? Or how about David Ortiz? Is it possible that Big Papi would’ve let me hit him with a few questions after his media availability had concluded?
No, and no. It’s laughable to even consider, actually.
So, I guess the moral of the story here is, they’re right, you should never meet your heroes.
Unless, of course, your hero is Patrice Bergeron.
Follow Danny on instagram, @DannyPicard.