Ready to Make Nice
by Brian Meador

After writing that "negative" article last week on my Top 10 Worst Interviews, I felt so bad about it that I decided to write my Top 10 Best Interviews. It sure was a lot tougher to write because the nice people often fly under the radar. I apologize for leaving out any deserving people.

10. Lou Holtz, College Football Coach (ret.) -

I first talked to him almost 10 years ago at the Michael Jordan Celebrity Golf Classic in Greenville. You could always expect his golf team to be holding everybody up because he never turned down an interview or an autograph seeker.

9. Kevin Donnally, Carolina Panthers OL (ret.) -

After Carolina's win over the Cowboys in the '03 playoffs, Brian Bailey and I entered the locker room after the game. Donnally was trying to throw his sweat-soaked jockstrap and undershorts into the dirty uniform bin. Instead he hit Bailey right in the chops with a splash. He couldn't have been more apologetic despite the laughter in the locker room. He was the best interview we got that night.

8. Kevin Miller, ECU Kicker (99-'02) -

Kevin is a good friend of mine so I might be biased here. Kevin is exactly the kind of Pirate you want in front of the camera. He always answered questions honestly but with the best interests of the school in mind. He also does an impression of former AD Mike Hamrick that is dead on!

7. Vince Carter, NBA New Jersey Nets -

He was always gracious and humble when I interviewed him at UNC despite the budding "Vin-Sanity."

6. "Rocket" Ismail, NFL Wide Receiver (ret.) -

He walks to the beat of his own drum. I got a big kick out of talking to him at the Jordan Classic paint party to benefit the kids of the Ronald McDonald House. After seeing him interact with the kids, I was more than honored to get him to sign a Cowboys mini-helmet that I had originally planned to ask Emmitt Smith to sign. No regrets on that one (see last week's article).

5. Jeremy Ingram, ECU Basketball player -

Jeremy, like Kevin, is a great ambassador for Pirate athletics. Super kid. Always gives thoughtful interviews and he always greets you with a half-hug.

4. Darrell Waltrip, NASCAR driver, analyst -

He was my favorite driver growing up. I was anxious before I interviewed him because I didn't want a childhood hero of mine to not meet my expectations. He exceeded them. Ole DW is 100% "boogity!! boogity!! boogity!!"

3. Skip Holtz, ECU Head Coach -

You might say that I'm sucking up. No way. Pirate fans, Skip is the real deal. He's a great coach and a great interview.

2. Joe Theisman, NFL QB (ret.) -

I previously wrote an article that he was one of my favorite interviews. He was nothing short of first class all the way.

1. Keith LeClair, Former ECU Baseball Coach -

A week after his passing, it'd be easy to put him at the top of this list for sentimental reasons. He always accommodated me when I showed up at practice unannounced looking for a sound bite. While his interviews during his tenure at ECU were always professional and insightful, it would be the words he used after losing the ability to speak that would be the most defining. Like many family and friends, I was fortunate enough to receive Keith's "daily devotional", a series of emails filled with examples of scripture and a following personal life experience to coincide. I'll never pretend that I have the same unwavering faith that Coach LeClair had, but I will say his devotionals and personal emails changed my life. A few years ago I left WNCT to pursue a job in sales. Big mistake. Coach had emailed me and asked how I was doing with the new job. I told him that I hated it and that I couldn't stand getting out of bed every day to go to work. How pathetic of me. Here's a guy who can't hug or kiss his wife goodnight and I'm crying about not wanting to go to work. But like he always did, despite all the adversity he was facing, he found the energy to make sure everybody else was feeling better. He sent me a moving email about staying positive and not giving up on the idea of getting back into sports broadcasting because I was always happy doing it. WITN called a few months later and now 2 years later, here I  sit writing about a man who could change a life with a few short sentences in an email. I can only imagine the influence he had on his players and assistant coaches. The world truly is a better place for having had Keith LeClair in it. I'm a better person for having known him.

Brian Meador