I am sitting here on the patio of our vacation spot this week, being reflective and contemplating life — much like I have done just about every day since we all started “hunkering down” at the end of March.

Today’s contemplation occurs while sitting on the beach, watching and listening to the waves roll in and roll out as the wife and kids greet those waves in person.

I don’t quite know why, but on this morning I am thinking about some of the experiences I have had in 29 years at the radio station.

And again, for reasons I cannot explain, I am fixed on a moment where I found myself in a special place, but walked away from it.

In was late July in 2002. I had the opportunity to attend media day for the Notre Dame football team.

There was a lot of angst about the prospects of the season. Bob Davie had just been dismissed as coach and Ty Willingham was the new man in charge.

As part of media day, we got to interview Willingham in a group press conference-style gathering. We got to meet the co-captains of the team, and I remember being so impressed with Rocky Boiman. He was completely engaged with those speaking with him, and he stayed at the 40-yard line on the north end of Notre Dame Stadium with us for what seemed like an hour.

A member of the sports information department at the university came to the group and offered to take us into the locker room and give us an impromptu tour.

The other media members handled it in stride, but for me—a lifetime fan of the Irish—my heart skipped a beat.

We went up into the locker room. It was just as I had pictured it in my head.

In my mind, I could hear former coach Lou Holtz addressing the team saying “we have to understand that adversity is what we strive for, because in adversity, there is opportunity.”

And then, they led us down the stairs.

Yes, those stairs.

That hallowed stairway, and at the landing the most famous sign in all of sports—it exhorts those who pass it to “PLAY LIKE A CHAMPION TODAY”.

I let everyone else go first, partly because I froze at the sight of it.

Every person who walked before me paused to take a picture of it or get their picture taken with it (before ‘selfies’ were a thing).

And they all did one more thing—they touched it. They put their hand on the sign that every Irish player touches on the way down to the tunnel that leads to the field.

And when my chance came, I couldn’t do it.

I stood there and stared at it. I examined every inch of its butterscotch background and dark blue lettering.

As I gazed upon its power and simplicity, I considered all of the great players who had been there. Players who had won national championships and Heisman Trophies had stood in that very spot and they had touched that very sign.

They had earned the right to touch it. They had achieved football greatness and were worthy of participating in one of the great traditions in all of sport.

I was not divinely chosen to play football at Notre Dame.

I could not, and did not, touch the sign.

I turned to the left and continued down the stairs. I was well behind the group now, but that didn’t matter anymore. At the bottom of the stairs, I turned to the right and made my way down to the concrete path that led to the tunnel. I just kept walking until the ramp down leveled off and I found myself drenched in the sunlight of the northern Indiana sky.

I looked back up the tunnel—back to where I had been and what I had seen. I felt an incredible peace overcome me.

I had left that special place as I had found it, unblemished by my fingerprints. I had shown it the respect it deserved.

And maybe, in some measure, Notre Dame will shine on me for it.