Boston Globe columnist Will McDonough dies
By Eric Wilbur, Boston.com Staff, 1/10/03
Longtime Boston Globe columnist Will McDonough, an icon of the Boston and national sports scenes, died late last night at his home in Hingham. He was 67.
McDonough died while watching ESPN's "SportsCenter," said Don Skwar, the Globe's sports editor.
McDonough had suffered from heart problems over the past few years. There was no immediate word whether or not they contributed to his death.
"Calling Will was like calling the Godfather. If you needed something, he would have it within moments, no questions asked," said longtime friend and colleague Upton Bell, who co-hosted "Will and Upton" with McDonough on Ch. 7 from 1983-89.
The veteran journalist covered the NFL for more than 30 years and had covered every Super Bowl since the championship game began nearly four decades ago.
"If there ever was a guy who was bigger than life, it was Will McDonough," said Skwar. "There were so many people who were touched by his life. There were people whom he cared about and they cared about him. This loss will be tough to get over."
"To so many people, including myself, this feels like the loss of a family member, because that's what Will was like to us," said Skwar.
McDonough wrote at the Boston Globe for 44 years, and is the only Globe sportswriter ever to be nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. He was named Massachusetts Sports Writer of the Year three times (1984, 1986 and 1987).
"He got right to the point, and that is a lost art," Bell said. "He always got the story and it was always that way even outside of sports. He had his tentacles out not only locally, but throughout the country."
His legacy at the Globe will last forever, added Skwar.
"He was the most important sports writing figure in the history of this state, and that's saying a lot," Ch. 4 sports director Bob Lobel said. "When he called you always called back.
"It's a shock for everyone that knew him. We all thought he was too tough to let something like this happen."
Best known for his coverage of the New England Patriots and the National Football League, he became a national figure doing television work for CBS and NBC during the 80’s and 90’s, and was nominated for an Emmy in 1989.
McDonough, who retired from the paper in 2001, continued to write a weekly sports column, and just recently had caused a stir with his comments about Red Sox CEO Larry Lucchino. He was also in the spotlight when he reported that his close friend Bill Parcells had taken the head coaching job with the Dallas Cowboys.
Born in South Boston in 1935, McDonough was one of the city’s great all-time athletes in both baseball and football. He graduated from Boston English with All-Boston honors. He studied both social studies and journalism at Northeastern University, and participated in a co-op at the Boston Globe. When McDonough graduated in 1960, the paper had a rule that it could not hire co-op students without some outside experience. McDonough was asked to leave, and went to work for the Waltham News Tribune. He returned to Globe later that year.
In addition to his Globe and network television work, McDonough was also the editor of "75 Seasons: The Complete Story of the National Football League," and was the main contributor of Parcells’ biography, "My Final Season in the NFL."
"He was a giant, he was fearless. He never let up," Lobel said. "He had his beliefs, and the respect that he commanded, nobody will ever put that package together again. He had power, and he knew how to use it. His South Boston roots served him well."
McDonough leaves behind his wife Denise, daughters Cara and Erin, and sons Ryan, Terence and Sean, who is the Red Sox’ play-by-play announcer and a national sports commentator.
"Boston lost not only a great writer but also a great person," Celtics president Red Auerbach said in a statement. "He was my good friend for over 30 years. I watched his family grow up. He had a wonderful wife. She was just perfect for him. To say that he will be missed will be an understatement."
Services will be held at St. Augustine at 225 Dorchester St. in South Boston. Time and day have yet to be announced.