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His colleagues at the Globe remember Will

Page 7 of 7 -- From the moment we met, more than 40 years ago as copy boys, covering a schoolboy track meet at some since-vanished armory, he for the Globe, I for the old Herald, I was impressed by Will's knowledge of the town, and obvious desire to be a hard-nosed, deep-digging reporter - which he became. As time went on I would realize that nobody in sports was better informed, or had a greater understanding of the financial side. He was always a guy ahead, straightforward, never pulling his punches - even literally, with a Patriot who got out of line. Most of us, who've wanted to do that at one time or another, envied Will's guts in flattening his antagonist. What an irreplaceable loss to our province.
BUD COLLINS, sports correspondent

I was one of the dozens of co-ops that Will McDonough took the time to help out. That relationship extended beyond my time on Morrissey Boulevard. Upon leaving the Globe, I eventually wound up in Bristol, Conn. at ESPN.com. At the time, ESPN owned the rights to NFL.com, and I was an assistant editor. One of our reporters was doing a story on the AFL-NFL merger, and enlisted my help. I knew just the person to talk to. I saw Willie at a Patriots preseason game. With all of the people he knew, I was convinced he wouldn’t remember a co-op from five years earlier, and I was more than a little nervous as I approached him. It wasn’t one of my finer moments.

"Uh, Will, I don’t know if you remember me but,"

"I remember you, kid," Will said, cutting short was going to be the most painful introduction ever. Will then proceeded to give me "the scoop" on the merger. It was unbelievable. He taught me so much in such a short time.

A few months later, Will was hosting an event in Faneuil Hall for ESPN Classic. I was just there as a fan with a few of my friends. As Will was introduced, he gave a quick wave to the cheering crowd. Somehow, he picked me out of the crowd, pointed, and gave me a thumbs up. My friends were stunned, I tried to play it cool, but I don’t think it worked. I couldn’t stop smiling, and it felt great. Will had a way of making people feel good.
ANDREW MAHONEY, former sports co-op

In 1979, my first year at the Globe, I was working the copy desk late on an autumn Sunday afternoon when the Patriots demolished the New York Jets at what was then Schaefer Stadium.

My colleagues and I discovered with riveting interest a small item on the Associated Press news wire that indicated Patriots cornerback Raymond Clayborn had taken umbrage at the media congestion around his locker and had become involved in an altercation with Globe sportswriter Will McDonough. The details were sketchy, so we all assumed that this was another case of a superbly conditioned athlete wreaking physical havoc on a poor, defenseless reporter.

Later that afternoon, Willie came strolling into the office with his fellow Globe pro football writer, the late Walter Haynes. He came up to the copy desk, and it looked as if he had one eye. His right eye was a canvas of red, where Clayborn obviously had poked him. Very casually he asked, "Did you guys get my story all right?"

"Yeah, Willie," I said. "But are you all right?" Willie looked at me as if he couldn't believe anyone would ask such an absurd question.

"I'm fine," he said emphatically. "I'm from Southie." "Yeah," cackled Haynes, "and you should see Clayborn." The incident, in which Willie decked Clayborn after the defensive back had pushed him and scratched his eye, had made the veteran Globe writer a national cause celebre, but he mentioned nothing about the incident, refusing to gloat.

Popular legend has it that in the dominos that followed Willie's punch, Patriots owner Billy Sullivan had been knocked head over heels into a laundry bin. Willie was often at odds with the Sullivan family, and there is nothing that would have given him greater satisfaction than to have claimed Billy's hide as a trophy. But last year, when Willie was helping me with a retrospective I was writing on the final year of what was now called Foxboro Stadium, I asked him about the incident.

He recalled it in a monotone and concluded, "You know, a lot of people said that Billy Sullivan got knocked into a laundry bin that day, but I didn't see it, so I can't say that it happened."

Vintage Willie. No embellishment. No self-glorification. Just the facts. Which were plenty good enough.
BOB DUFFY, sportswriter 

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