It was late summer 1999, and the New York Giants were wrapping up their training camp in Albany, New York. At the time, I was pursuing my dream — working in the sports industry. I was an intern in the Giants’ Communications Department, working for Pat Hanlon during the 1999 season.
Near the end of training camp, I was about to get in my car near the dormitories when Joe Montgomery, a rookie out of Ohio State, waved me down. Training camp was closing up, and he’d just realized that he had left his bag with his wallet back at the locker room, about a mile or so down the road.
I offered to drive him down, and he jumped in my car.
After he retrieved his bag and got back in my car, he was extremely grateful and told me so. None of the players had expressed even an iota of interest in me during the prior six weeks, but Joe asked what I was going to do on my few days off before starting the season. I told him I would probably just spend some time with my girlfriend and maybe we’d go out to eat.
As Joe was getting out of the car, he whipped out a wad of cash and handed me a hundred dollars.
“Dinner’s on me,” he said.
He exited the car, paused, glanced at me, and reached in through the open window to put another hundred dollars on the seat. He said, “Take her somewhere nice.”
That was 16 years ago, but I remember it like it was yesterday. And considering that my stipend from the New York Giants was about $200 per week, I am sure it made a huge impact on my choice of restaurants for dinner with my girlfriend.
That moment taught me small acts of kindness go a long way — especially when they come from unexpected sources.
I recently found Joe’s address and sent him a handmade football crafted by my friend Paul Cunningham at Leather Head Sports. I included a note reminding Joe of our encounter and telling him my girlfriend ended up being my wife.
Joe called me last Monday, about an hour after the package had arrived at his front door.
It just goes to show that you never know when the things you do will come back around to you.
He’s been retired for a number of years and spends his free time coaching his children’s sports teams. He’s legally disabled after going through more than a dozen surgeries over the years — all from just a few years in the NFL with the Giants and the Carolina Panthers.
Referring to the football I’d sent him, he said, “You didn’t have to do that. It just goes to show that you never know when the things you do will come back around to you.”
I couldn’t agree more.
“Obviously, you must have taken her somewhere nice, since she married you,” he said.
I must have.
And I have Joe Montgomery to thank for it.