NAPA - In this business, you're not supposed to be in awe of meeting someone.
But when I was a grad student at Cal in 2001, I couldn't help being excited when I met Bill Walsh.
As a Southern California native, I grew up rooting for all Los Angeles teams, which meant I fostered a healthy hatred for Walsh's 49ers as a youngster.
How many times did I have to see Jim Everett embarrassed by the team from the Bay?
But as I got older, I couldn't help but appreciate what Walsh did as a coach. That's why I hurried to shake his hand that spring day in 2001.
I was the 49ers facility working for Cal's student paper, The Daily Californian. The Niners had drafted Andre Carter and I was there for the press conference.
But I made it a point to meet Walsh, because in addition to being a journalist, I'm a huge football fan and always into the history of the game.
Our photographer took a picture of me speaking with Walsh, one that I have stored away to this day.
At only 28, I lack the memory of "The Catch" but you don't have to be long in the tooth to feel the impact Walsh had on football.
In fact, I saw it today. Lane Kiffin is just one of many coaches that are descendants - directly or indirectly - of the Walsh coaching tree. Walsh, who onced coached for the Raiders, changed the way football is played for a generation of players to young to ever see Jerry Rice in his prime.
How could you not be in awe of that.