Former McCann Award winner New York Times long time columnist Dave Anderson, 1929-2018, remembered

Former McCann Award winner New York Times long time columnist Dave Anderson, 1929-2018, remembered

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From PFWA President Bob Glauber and former at large PFHOF selector

Legendary New York Times columnistand Pulitzer Prize winner Dave Anderson was laid to rest near his home in Tenafly, N.J. A man who spent decades covering all sports and had a particular passion for writing about the NFL, Anderson was 89.


The PFWA sends its deepest condolences to Dave’s family members, many of whom spoke so eloquently and emotionally about the man they knew as Dad and Pop-Pop. His funeral was attended his family, friends, colleagues and several NFL executives who came to appreciate and respect his work over so many decades. Among those attending the funeral were NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Giants president and co-owner John Mara and league executives Pete Abitante and Howard Katz.

Also in attendance were longtime former Jets public relations director Frank Ramos and NFL writers and Anderson colleagues Gerald Eskenazi, Judy Battista, Harvey Araton, Bill Rhoden, Barry Wilner and several other current and former New York Times writers and editors.

Anderson’s career is one of the most remarkable in the history of sports journalism. At 24, he became the beat writer for the Brooklyn Dodgers at the Brooklyn Eagle, the same year Jackie Robinson became the first African American to play in the Major Leagues in the modern era.

Anderson later joined the New York Times as a football writer covering the Jets. His first season: 1968, the year Joe Namath led the Jets to their first and only Super Bowl victory. Anderson went on to become the newspaper’s columnist, and his descriptive, direct and richly reported writing earned him journalism’s highest honor when he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1981 for his sports commentary. He was the 1994 winner of the Associated Press Sports Editors Red Smith Award and was inducted into the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Hall of Fame in 1990.

In 1998, Anderson won the PFWA’s McCann Award in recognition of long and distinguished reporting in the field of pro football. Anderson was a longtime supporter of the PFWA and often entered his columns – and won – our group’s writing awards.

Highly regarded for his great writing, but also for his warm and engaging personality, Anderson was never too busy to help other writers, and anyone who worked with him or alongside him was familiar with his willingness to share his knowledge – not to mention a good meal, a round of golf, or some friendly press box banter.

Anderson once coined a great football writing phrase during his time covering the Jets, and it applies to this day: “When in doubt, write the quarterback.”

Having known Dave for more than 30 years, I would add another phrase that still resonates: “When in doubt, be Dave Anderson.”

Rest in peace.

PFHOF Executive Producer George Veras worked with Dave Anderson and shares his story

I first met Dave Anderson at the press table at Madison Square Garden covering the NYU college basketball team as the Sports Editor. On that table was the Murderer’s Row of New York sports writers..Red Smith, Dick Young, Leonard Koppett and Dave Anderson. Actually Dave was the youngest of that quartet but was holding his own. That night,  NYU was playing the Army in a doubleheader and the Black Knights were coached by Bobby Knight. The second game was Manhattan versus Fordham and the Rams were coached by Digger Phelps. Of that fearsome foursome of writers, Dave Anderson was the kindest and most out going. Congenial to a fault, making me feel welcomed with that friendly smile behind those wide rimmed glasses, he spoke in the King’s English, very professorial. He dutifully asked background questions about the NYU Violets, who at the time were a highly ranked team with Happy Hairston, Barry Kramer and Mal Graham. Several years earlier,  NYU was actually on the cover of the Sports Illustrated in 1965 as a preseason number one favorite. They did beat Army in a low scoring game because Knight’s smaller Army team literally tackled the Violet’s on the way to the hoop.
I reconnected with him from 1975-80, working for my uncle, Jets team physician Dr. James Nicholas, at the Institute of Sports Medicine and Athletic Trauma.  Dave loved my uncle because “Nick” ,as he was known, gave Dave the “inside” on Joe Namath’s surgeries and recoveries. In return, Dave wrote about my uncle’s research and work in sports medicine . From the Times obituary on Dr. Nicholas ““In 1972, more than 17 million people required a physician’s services for leisure-time injuries, more casualties than there were in all the wars our country has fought,” Dr. Nicholas once told Dave Anderson of The New York Times, recalling how he came to create the center.
I lost touch with Dave, but it resurface when his son Stephen Anderson became a top producer at ESPN and we interacted when I directed college football games for the network.
As you have read in this column, he was a consummate professional wrapped in the soul of a gentleman. His writing and persona will be missed.

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