“Dignified comportment” – classy, respectful, present, unflappable.

In the months leading up to Derek Jeter‘s much-anticipated retirement on Sunday, nearly all media coverage has mentioned, if not focused on, Jeter’s clean record of behavior. He’s never made trouble, nor has he ever made any outrageous or controversial comments. In 20 years. In New York.

In The New York Times Sports Sunday this past weekend, Dan Barry and Ken Schwencke wrote a piece entitled “With His Words and Deeds, Jeter Never Entered Foul Territory.” In it, they wrote, “Jeter’s ability to maintain a posture of sustained inscrutability – or, if you must, dignified comportment – has extended especially to the spoken word.”

“In a major league career that dates to the Clinton administration’s first term … inquiring reporters have gathered around Jeter in the clubhouse thousands of times. He has maintained eye contact, answered nearly every question posed to him – and said nothing. This is not a complaint, but rather an expression of awe; of admiration, even.”

Even – or especially – in difficult times, when you might be facing criticism or uncomfortable questioning or dealing with bad news, think of Jeter’s example. Dignified comportment. Turns out, it’s career-defining.

Beth Levine