- Ted Miller, ESPN Staff Writer
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Derrick Malone’s tire was flat, but that wasn’t the worst news for the former Oregon linebacker. As he pulled over after exiting Interstate 5, a police car pulled up behind him.
After some of the recent headlines involving police officers and African-Americans -- plus a few of Malone’s own life experiences -- he says he was “terrified” when the car pulled up behind him.
But this story has an uplifting ending, one that Malone felt compelled to tweet about today.
“They basically taught me how to change a tire,” Malone said. “I was really grateful that they took the time to be more than helpful.”
And by doing so, Forest Grove officers, Joe Martino and Ernesto Villaraldo, who had no idea he played for the Ducks, won over Malone, so much so that he Tweeted about it.
My entire outlook on police officers in America has completely changed. I've gained a greater appreciation and respect of them.
— Derrick Malone Jr. (@PoeticSoul__) July 21, 2015
You are a stand up guy Derrick! Happy to help - and our officers were thrilled to be able to meet you! https://t.co/Q5GSClDlxo
— Forest Grove Police (@ForestGrovePD) July 26, 2015
Malone, who will soon have a second shoulder surgery, an injury that convinced him to give up football, is an introspective sort. His Twitter handle is "Poetic Soul," and his personal blog goes by the same name. Writing is a hobby he wants to turn into a career in some form or fashion. So this incident had more than a fleeting impact with him.
"It was a life-changing experience because I had a certain perception, especially right now in America, about how things were going with police officers," Malone said. "It really changed my outlook and opened my eyes that all cops aren't the same, just like all athletes aren't the same, just all people aren't the same. You can't put them all in the same category because of a few bad eggs."
Malone has experienced the bad eggs in his life, too. He observed that his mom once told him to not even carry a pocket knife, as it could be used to justify a police using force against him. He cited an example "a few months ago" when he was riding with a buddy whose car also broke down. They were waiting by the road when police pulled up.
"These two cops came up holding their guns like we were doing something," Malone said. "We were like, 'No we're OK. Our transmission went out. We're waiting for a ride.' Stuff like that has happened plenty of times. So it was rewarding to have a really positive experience with police officers."
Amid all the ill-will and controversy slamming into us seemingly every day on TV and Internet, here's an encounter that went very right. That surely is a good thing.