Wednesday, July 26, 2006

I need a hero....

The news yesterday regarding Harold Reynolds, and the fact that he was fired by ESPN, reportedly because of sexual harassment, saddened me. I should be sad for Harold, for a potential victim, and even for his family. But in a selfish way, I am feeling sorry for myself instead.

As I discussed briefly yesterday on the show, I covered the Mariners from 1987-1994 for KOMO Television and then KVI Radio in Seattle. A little history is in order here.... Especially at KOMO, I was at the bottom of the sports office totem pole, working as a producer for the 11:00 sportscast in a sports department that included three on-air anchors, and really two of the true sports media icons in Seattle with Bruce King and Bob Rondeau. One of my roles was to chase down interviews daily at the Kingdome, and to set up live interviews in the early newscasts with Mariner players. As a young person new in the media business, it seemed great, until you dealt with those Mariner teams. To say they were difficult doesn't even begin to describe what I dealt with. But there was one guy who was incredible, Harold Reynolds. While other players had no problem blowing me off daily, Harold always came up to say hi, talk, and actually see if we needed help. He even helped set up interviews with guys, urging them to "go talk to KOMO" when I had problems. My dad isn't a big sports fan, but he always liked the Mariners. When he turned 60, I had Harold cut a video "mock interview" taking some shots at my father's age which turned out to be an incredible gift for his birthday. His work in the community was well documented and as most know, he received multiple awards for that charitable work. None of that will ever change. Later, at KOMO, Harold got his start in television working with us (Bruce and I) nightly during the baseball playoffs and World Series games-basically his first analyst role and the first step to ESPN.

But how Harold is perceived and his legacy in the Northwest, his home, has changed. I have heard from numerous people that Reynolds had this reputation which ended up with the sexual harassment allegations and reports. They may be true. They may not be. Obviously there was enough evidence for ESPN to fire a high-profile employee yesterday, which makes you believe there is some truth to the reports.

What I know is the Harold Reynolds who I covered and worked side by side with at KOMO was never anything but a gentlemen, and a class act. He made my job easier and treated a young person who wasn't a big name anchor with the same respect he treated anyone else. In addition, guys like Harold Reynolds, my dad when he was a news anchor in Seattle, Bruce King, and others taught me another lesson. They showed that if you are in the public eye, whether you are a big name like Harold or a small time sports talk show host, you have an opportunity and an avenue to help others that the general public doesn't have. It is something I think about often when getting involved with Caddies4Cure, the March of Dimes, the Oregon Food Bank and other charities I work with.

The Harold Reynolds I knew did take that responsiblity seriously, he did make a difference, he did treat me and many others with respect and it is that Harold Reynolds, not the one who may have been involved in sexual harassment, that I want people to know. At times he was a sports "hero" to me.