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Lessons learned, wisdom gained from sports icons ‘walking down the street’

There is much to be gleaned from our daily encounters, from those on top of the world to those who are struggling.

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Dave McCann, right, and Gary Sheide, the BYUtv play-by-play announcer, call game at Larry H. Miller Field, May 21, 2022.

Dave McCann, right, and Gary Sheide, the BYUtv play-by-play announcer, call the game at Larry H. Miller Field in Provo on Saturday, May 21, 2022.

Mengshin Lin, Deseret News

Growing up with Sesame Street taught me a thing or two about the people in my neighborhood. You know, like the late Bob McGrath used to sing, “The people that you meet, when you are walking down the street. They are the people that you meet each day.”

In time, the high-octane Big Wheel races, backyard campouts and water balloon fights in our Norman Rockwell-like Orem neighborhood conceded to growth, jobs and relocations. But Bob’s message never lost its tune — the people in the neighborhood are worth getting to know.

Decades of broadcasting have brought some of the most interesting people into my professional neighborhood. Each one, in their own unique way, has brought wisdom into my life through their experiences. While there are many to choose from, here are just a few.


Mike Tyson

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Mike Tyson, right, delivers a powerful blow to Trevor Berbick in the second round in Las Vegas on Nov. 22, 1986.

Douglas C. Pizac, Associated Press

“OK, you’ve got two minutes!” shouted the promoter as Mike Tyson, the most feared heavyweight in boxing history, walked down the stairs of the news conference platform and stopped in front of me and my cameraman. He was agitated and stared directly into my eyes — as if to say, “Hurry up!” I was intimidated to the core.

It was just days before his fight at the MGM Grand, and per Nevada State Athletic Commission rules, Tyson was off his medication and that made him unpredictable. I had interviewed him before, but on this day, I wasn’t convinced that he wouldn’t punch me in the face if I asked the wrong question.

The two minutes went by quickly. I managed to get a few sound bites for the evening news before his handlers whisked him away in a huff. I interviewed him again months after the fight. This time, while medicated, Tyson was calm and jovial. He even threw his arm around me and thanked me for the interview.

Wisdom: Medication can be a blessing when used correctly.


Mickey Mantle

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Mickey Mantle follows through on the 500th home run of his career, against the Baltimore Orioles in New York on May 14, 1967.

Associated Press

“We are here to see if we get an interview with Mr. Mantle,” I said to the security guard watching over an autograph signing with one of the greatest New York Yankees in history, Mickey Mantle.

“He doesn’t do interviews, but I suppose you can go ask him,” said the guard. It didn’t hurt that the guard was a frequent viewer of our television station.

Mantle was at the Riviera Hotel where paying fans filled the room and waited in line to get his signature. I walked over, introduced myself and asked if we could ask him some questions while he signed his pictures. To my surprise, he said, “Sure.”

Mantle put his pen down and turned to give me his full attention. This is when I realized I hadn’t prepared any questions because I didn’t think we would even get this far.

“I coach a Little League team. What advice do you have for them as they learn the game?” I asked, figuring it would be an easy question to get us started.

As Mantle thought of a response, his warm, grandpa-like face and bushy eyebrows couldn’t hide the tears that were forming. I realized I was not interviewing the King of New York. Instead, he was a beaten-down man who was about to lose his long fight with alcohol and the aftermath that destroyed his vital organs.

Expecting an answer about proper hitting etiquette or fielding grounders, the Hall of Fame icon, who belted 536 home runs, left me speechless with his answer.

“Tell them not to be like me,” Mantle said. “I ruined my life with alcohol and drugs. Tell them to stay away from that stuff.”

Mantle died a short time later.

Wisdom: Take care of your health.


Jack Nicklaus

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Jack Nicklaus waves from the Swilcan Bridge during his final appearance of the British Open on the Old Course at St. Andrews, Scotland, July 15, 2005.

Ted S. Warren, Associated Press

Prior to opening his Reflection Bay golf course at Lake Las Vegas in 1998, Jack Nicklaus came to the desert with dreams of creating a golf oasis in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson. The biggest name in the sport, with 18 major championships, sat down with this young reporter and treated me as if I had covered the game for years.

Nicklaus even recorded a promo to encourage viewing of my Sunday night sports show. I quickly learned why so many people stand up when he enters the room.

Wisdom: Showing respect for people breeds respect for you.


Oscar De La Hoya

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Oscar De La Hoya, left, and Pernell Whitaker exchange punches during their WBC Welterweight Championship fight at Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas April 12, 1997.

Bob Galbraith, Associated Press

While amassing his 11 championship belts in six weight divisions, former Olympic gold medal boxer Oscar De La Hoya, with his ear-to-ear grin and boyish persona, discovered the secret to fan loyalty — effort.

No matter if he was winning, like he did 45 times, or losing, which he did in four of his last six fights, De La Hoya always performed to sellout crowds. He also honored his media commitments.

On one occasion, he interviewed with me on a street corner outside the MGM Grand because our television truck couldn’t get a clean signal back to the station from inside the building. On another occasion, he ran out of his dressing room in the middle of shaving so he wouldn’t miss his interview during our live newscast.

Wisdom: Fans will stay loyal, win or lose, so long as you give your best.


John Daly

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John Daly follow his drive on the sixth hole of The World Golf Championships-American Express Championship at Harding Park on Oct. 7, 2005 in San Francisco.

Michael Macor/San Francisco Chronicle via Associated Press

Walking the old Desert Inn golf course in Las Vegas with John Daly was a walk of a lifetime. The out-of-the-box golfer carried his 2-iron and putter and blistered the course. He didn’t stop talking or smoking the entire time. We talked about life, the pressure of the PGA Tour and his desire to not take it all so seriously.

Wisdom: Be yourself. It can be exhausting trying to please everyone.


Andre Agassi

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Andre Agassi, right, waves to the crowd as Andy Roddick looks on during a ceremony to induct him into the Court of Champions before the women’s championship match at the 2012 US Open tennis tournament, Sunday, Sept. 9, 2012, in New York.

Mike Groll, Associated Press

One of my first interviews as a young sports reporter in Las Vegas was the day Andre Agassi returned home after winning Wimbledon in 1992. He walked into the room like a rock star — with hair flowing wildly — also like a rock star.

In the next two decades, I would come to know the eight-time major champion, Olympic gold medalist and winner of $31 million in prize money, as a loyal Las Vegan, committed to making life better for the underprivileged. Among his philanthropic pursuits was opening the Andrew Agassi College Preparatory Academy for at-risk kids.

As our respective families grew, the Agassis and McCanns would sometimes collide on the baseball diamond. During one showdown, with Agassi and his wife Steffi Graf seated in the bleachers, my Cubs suffered a narrow defeat to their son Jaden and his team.

On the drive home, I looked over at my 11-year-old son Andrew and said, “Well, at least you struck out Andre Agassi’s kid! That was pretty cool!”

“Who’s Andre Agassi?” he answered.

Wisdom: Giving back to your community matters.


Brent Musburger

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Veteran broadcaster Brent Musburger prepares for his last broadcast prior to an NCAA college basketball game between Kentucky and Georgia, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, in Lexington, Ky. The game marks Musburger’s last broadcast before retirement.

James Crisp, Associated Press

I grew up watching Brent Musburger host “NFL Today” and I studied him as he ventured out of the studio to become CBS’ lead college football play-by-play announcer. When BYU hosted Air Force on Nov. 11, 1989, I was given the job as a “runner” for Musburger and game analyst Ken Stabler.

My job was to get them whatever they needed, whether it was a bottle of water or a desired statistic. So basically, I was just paid to be in their presence and watch them work in the broadcast booth. Musburger was impressive. He came prepared, he was professional and he was nice.

At the end of the game, when the crew cleaned up and proceeded to leave, I uttered the only words to Musburger I could think of at the time as we shook hands — “Someday, I’ll see you in New York!”

“You do that, young man!” he fired back.

During the offseason, Musburger left CBS for ABC. It was also that summer when I was hired by ABC as the network’s first college reporter for “Good Morning America” — in New York.

Wisdom: Follow your dreams

Who are the people in your neighborhood and what can they teach you? In the references above, this imperfect person was taught by imperfect people to take care of my health, treat others with respect, do your best, be yourself, give back to the community, follow your passion and yes, when taken correctly, medication can be a blessing.

For those lessons I thank Bob on Sesame Street, whose song still encourages us to look up, look around and see what we can learn from the “people that you meet when you are walking down the street. They are the people that you meet each day.”

Dave McCann, BYU assistant head coach coach Ed Lamb and defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki sit in director’s chairs on a set that looks like a football field during BYU football media day at the BYU Broadcasting Building in Provo on Thursday, June 17, 2021. A screen with the BYU football “Y” logo, “MEDIA DAY” and a football player is in the background.

Dave McCann talks with BYU assistant head coach coach Ed Lamb and defensive coordinator Ilaisa Tuiaki during BYU football media day at the BYU Broadcasting Building in Provo on Thursday, June 17, 2021.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

Dave McCann is a contributor to the Deseret News and is the studio host for “BYU Sports Nation Game Day,” “The Post Game Show,” “After Further Review,” and play-by-play announcer for BYUtv. He is also co-host of “Y’s Guys” at ysguys.com.