Steve Sabol: A true genius who revolutionized how we watch the NFL. His favorite quote:
“My dad has a great expression. “Tell me a fact, and I’ll learn. Tell me a truth, and I’ll believe. But tell me a story, and it will live in my heart forever.’”
Sabol’s stories will live forever.
Beano Cook: ESPN’s colorful college football analyst who had a unique perspective on the game. Unfortunately, he wasn’t granted this wish:
“I’d like to do the last scoreboard show and then go,” he once said. “I don’t want to die in the middle of the football season. I have to know who’s No. 1 in the last polls.”
Even though Cook died during the middle of the season, I’m fairly sure he is giving heaven the lowdown on Notre Dame-Alabama.
“That’s easy– the wonder of ‘What happens next?’
“When I’m watching a game between teams I’m interested in, sometimes that wonder — and the fullfilment of it, as in the sixth game of the 2011 World Series — can be excruciatingly exciting, and its fullfilment as you watch and wait can be almost literally incredible.”
Furman Bisher: The legendary columnist in Atlanta who still was churning them out in his 90s. Dave Kindred recalled his old friend:
“One time, two years ago, his glorious wife, Linda, called him in the Augusta press room and Furman became a high school kid in love. “I just finished, honey,” he said. “It wasn’t much. I keep trying. I’ll do that perfect column someday.”
Jim Huber: One of my favorites, the Turner Broadcasting analyst was known for his writing and terrific essays. This was the opening to his last book on Tom Watson’s near miss at the 2009 British Open.
“He climbed out of bed for what must have been the tenth time that interminable Sunday night. Making certain he did not awaken his wife, he made his way silently onto the balcony off the bedroom of the hotel high atop a hill. Clouds hung low over the dark Irish Sea, but he could still see the outline of the Ailsa Craig miles off the shoreline. A sliver of Scottish moon sprinkled shadows across the land.
“The grandstands, empty and cold now, hid the 18th green from view, but there was no shrouding the huge, familiar old yellow scoreboard off to the left. He did not have to squint to read the names still at the top. He would see them imprinted on his intricate mind for all time.”
Well done, Jim.
“He’s the best I’ve ever heard on radio,” Ramsey said. “He seems to have been taken for granted because he’s such a self effacing guy. But he has everything—the great voice, the instinct for coming to the exciting parts of the game so that you can feel it in his voice. He never misses a tip, a pass, deflection, every shot, every defensive play and with great recall. He’s just amazing. This was long overdue.”
Chris Economaki: A pioneer as a motor sports journalist. From no less than A.J. Foyt:
“He saw the sport grow to where it is today and how it grew, including NASCAR. And he contributed to that growth. I’d say when he was in his heyday of writing that more people would read his column than any column that’s been written today by far. I know I did.”
Bert Sugar: The colorful boxing writer and sports historian. From Sports Illustrated’s Richard Hoffer:
“Mostly, though, he was there to provide atmosphere, some of it coming from his ever-present cigar, to be sure. Just the sight of him in his equally ever-present fedora (no one — nobody — ever saw the actual top of his head), his plaid pants, waving that cigar in one hand and a glass of vodka in the other, was enough to restore the sport to its Golden Age. He was a one-man re-enactment of a Toots Shor bar scene, a gentle reminder that this is all nonsense, not to be taken too seriously, that to truly witness greatness demands a jaundiced eye as well as jaundice.”
“Jauss loved the little guy. He spoke — he likes to say — for Joe and Jane Six-Pack. But he sells himself short. He spoke for Joe and Jane Martini, too. He spoke for everyone with a heart.”