Anyone who has lived in Arkansas knows who Paul Eells was. Before his death, he was the “voice of the Razorbacks” for almost thirty years, Sports Director at KATV in Little Rock for the same period of time, and Arkansas Sportscaster of the Year eleven times. The Wikipedia page on him probably sums it up best when it says he was an iconic figure in the state of Arkansas. What stood out when you listened to him was that he was obviously a first class person. Although he was unapologetically pro-Arkansas, he was nonetheless polite and diplomatic about it—none of the high decibel ranting or crude speech you hear so much of these days. He was a gentleman—it wasn’t in him to try to make himself look good by putting others down.
I called the station where he worked one time with a question about their sports programming. I don’t remember the specifics, but I’m sure I wanted to know why they weren’t carrying a ballgame involving an Alabama team. I certainly didn’t expect the sports director to answer the phone. I asked him about the matter and he said he wasn’t sure, but would look into it. I then told him how much I appreciated his style and the way he conducted himself. He said that he viewed himself as possessing mediocre talent and having had a mediocre career, but he appreciated the encouraging words.
I suppose there was a certain truth to his self-appraisal. If someone were judging his career solely by the size of the television market, Little Rock would be somewhere in the middle of the top one hundred markets. If New York, L.A., and Chicago were the standards, then I guess “mediocre” applied in that sense. And although Paul Eells was great at what he did, his greatness didn’t lie in technical expertise, unsurpassed knowledge, or some other ability we often associate with excellence. What made him stand out was not his skill set, but his character.
It was Mother Teresa who said, We can do no great things, only small things with great love. The apostle Paul wrote that if he possessed all knowledge, gave everything he had to the poor, or had the faith to move a mountain, but was without love—he was a zero (1 Corinthians 13:1-3).
I’m not suggesting that we be anything less than we can be or that we be less than diligent in developing whatever gifts and talents we’ve been blessed with. What I am saying is that we keep these things in perspective by realizing that how we do what we do is at least as important as what we do. That’s what I’ll always remember about Paul Eells.
What will people remember about us?