That is surprises me says more about me than him, that I didn't appreciate what he offered sports viewers for 22 years on ESPN. Fact is, I missed about 20 of those years.
But quickly, let me offer this: I feel for anyone who has to battle cancer and I feel for their loved ones, their friends and their colleagues. In Stuart's case, he had a seven-year battle and he had the world rooting for him.
He fought it publicly, he fought it courageously ... and I never even realized it. I paid no attention to Stuart Scott.
We aren't supposed to speak ill of the dead, but I'll be honest. As I told a friend Monday, I could not stand watching him or listening to him. I thought he was a clown. He was too "cool" for me, too hip. I'm just an old-school guy.
Again, that says more about me. I put a lot of announcers on the turnoff list. See them on TV, turn them off. Or I flip them off; flip the channel.
I have written about TV announcers/talk show personalities a couple of times previously, so you might know that Skip Bayless is at the top of the "turnoff" list, and Keith Olbermann -- despite taking sports and political positions I agree with -- is right there. I never liked Tom Brookshier a few decades ago and I try to avoid Brent Musberger now.
Look, I have a long list of "likes" and "dislikes" in announcing (see previous pieces).
But, of course, no announcer will ever be as totally irritating to me -- and millions -- as the king of bombastic pomposity ... How-ard Co-sell. What he was, mostly, was a name-dropper. In my opinion, he commented so ignorantly so often on football and especially baseball, a thought verified completely in a chapter of fellow announcer Al Michaels' new book.
|Stuart Scott (from ESPN Images)|
I didn't like them from the start. Sorry, I was never a "Boo-Yah!" guy. So after about a year, I just didn't watch them much.
Eventually Stuart was everywhere -- the main guy at the NBA championship presentation, a Super Bowl mainstay, someone who had his own language and catchphrases. But I never caught on. If I saw him on, I hit the "mute" bottom or changed channels.
The past couple of days I have read several beautiful tributes to him from ESPN people, and I watched the 15-minute ESPN remembrance -- with comments from his bosses and co-workers. I'd never seen his speech at last year's ESPYs accepting the Jimmy V Perseverance Award and, honestly, watching that had me choked up.
President Obama released a statement with his appreciation for Stuart's work and humanity. Twitter was filled Sunday with comments from athletes, administrators, coaches, media people ... it was overwhelming.
So I was ignorant about his place in the sports world. I asked a few friends what they thought. A couple my age thought what I thought. But one said, "I really believe he was much deeper in his thoughts/outlooks on sports than all of the silly stuff he would say." Another friend, some two decades younger, said he didn't really have much an opinion, but was surprised at the strong reaction.
Another friend, 10 years younger, said, "He was the anti-Chris Berman. Berman is contrived and tired. Scott was hip and unpredictable."
Tim Brando, our Shreveport-based national media personality, worked with Scott at ESPN in the mid-1990s and wrote a tribute in The Shreveport Times this week.
"Stuart’s heart was always in the right place," Tim wrote, "and if ya didn’t know him but you formed opinions (as people often do) by watching him on television, you simply didn’t get it, and certainly didn’t get him!"
That would describe me.
Tim also added that Scott (and Eisen) were "misunderstood by many" and that he (Brando)
"as a baby boomer, I didn’t always connect generationally."
That, too, would be me.
Valid point also that we -- the media, fans -- make judgments on people (coaches, athletic directors, politicians, sports columnists) based on what we see on TV or on one- or two-time meetings. I know I do. Pretty shallow, but also a human trait ... and not necessarily a good one.
It's good to know that Stuart Scott was a friendly, loyal person, good to most everyone he met and dealt with, a loving father of two young daughters, a guy determined to do things his way -- no matter the criticism.
So I never liked his style; I wasn't cool with it. But the evidence is in: Stuart was cool, like the other side of the pillow.