Remembering the words of a mentor

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- You don't get far in life without good mentors. I remembered the words of one of mine this morning after arriving at Gillette Stadium in the 9 o'clock hour.

I like to arrive at games early, in part to beat traffic, read newspapers and Web sites, and get set up to cover the game.

The other reason I show up early is because Lenny Megliola, the longtime columnist from the Middlesex News/MetroWest Daily News, once told me it was a good idea. He said you can sometimes learn as much about the players and coaches you cover in the hours before the game as you can during the game.

He once told a great story of covering the Boston Celtics in the 1980s, and how he arrived at the Boston Garden several hours before the opening tip. The lights were still off in the building, but he heard the sound of a bouncing basketball and the "swish" of the ball going through the net every few seconds.

When he looked a bit closer, he saw Larry Bird.

It told him most everything he needed to know about Bird and how driven he was.

This morning, by arriving early, I learned something about running back Fred Taylor. He was on the field around 9:30, testing his right ankle, hoping that he'll make his long anticipated return.

It isn't necessarily a Bird-like story, but it was a reminder of words from a mentor that I think about often.