Patriots Commentary Writer Bob George
      January 11, 2003      
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      A Tribute to Will McDonough
    By: Kevin Rousseau/PatsFans.com

    Sometimes, a person’s name is an insight into their personality. Will McDonough’s first name was indeed an accurate description of the man. He had the will to have the guts to write the unpopular story and stand behind it. The obvious example of this is the Parcells-Kraft divorce in 1997 and his involvement right smack dab in the middle of all of it. He also had the will to stand up and take the heat from sports personalities he didn’t care for, namely Roger Clemens, Mo Vaughn, and most recently Larry Lucchino. However, he had the will to dig for the accurate story and angle that no one else uncovered and then present it to his reader’s in an easy, relaxing style. Most importantly is that at the end of the day he will be remembered for having an army of friends and contacts (both rich and poor, famous and not-so-famous) that called upon him and he, in turn, called upon. His legacy as a friend to these people will be that he stood shoulder to shoulder with them and had the will to stand behind them especially when it was unpopular to do so. Isn’t that the kind of friend we would all cherish?

    Often times, we hear Boston fans being mentioned as some of the most knowledgeable, passionate fans in the country. Maybe this is true, maybe it’s not. When I hear this, it invariably makes me wonder why this label is pinned on our lapels. A case could be made for the long history of sports in the New England culture and that it ingratiates us at an early age. It could also be that we have had the good fortune to have some of the greatest athletes in the history of the world pass through our neck of the woods. Bird, Williams, Orr, and Russell among others. Save for perhaps New York and Chicago, no other city in the world could stake a claim for having such legends in their midst. But my guess it that the greatest reason for this passion is the fact that we are fortunate enough to read some of the best sports writers in the history of their craft.

    Perhaps the biggest regret of my life is that I did not have the self-confidence and will to pursue my boyhood dream of becoming a sports writer for the Boston Globe. Like so many others as a youngster, I would faithfully read the Boston Globe sports section everyday. On these pages, the appreciation and love for the games was fueled by the clarity, passion, and knowledge demonstrated by their writers. Often times while reading them, I felt like I was sitting across from a friend and he was describing all the exciting happenings that occurred past my bedtime the night before. And make no mistake, Will McDonough was at the top of this heap of “friends.” His insight into the NFL fueled my desire for this wonderful game and will always stay with me.

    As I grew older and started to travel around the rest of the country, I became exposed to all of the daily sports pages out there. Foolishly, I had assumed that all daily sports pages were similar to the Globe’s. They weren’t. Rather, many of them were filled with recycled, stale stories that were of little interest. No wonder they don’t really care like we do in Atlanta, Phoenix, or Seattle. They would if they had had the good fortune to read writers like Will McDonough on a regular basis.

    Will McDonough invented the short one-line piece of news columns now commonly referred to as “notes columns.” These notes columns were ingenious as they helped the fan know a little about a lot. Frankly, the other reason why they are so successful is that the modern reader is often times too impatient to sit through a whole story. Now, these notes columns are all the rage. So the next time you come across my latest offering of “Zingers” or some other imitation of his column, I hope that you will give a nod to the memory of Will McDonough.

    Whether you loved him or despised him, you made darn sure that you read him. Because if you didn’t, you knew you were missing out on a secret that you just had to know about. Whether it was a little tidbit about a coach being on the hot seat or the scoop on a critical injury to a Patriots player, Will was there to give us the inside track. Deep down, don’t we all want to be the person who has a juicy bit of gossip and wants to share it? How can a columnist for the largest daily newspaper in New England make you feel like you were being let in on a secret piece of news that no one else knew? I’m not sure, but he sure did.


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