Media Memories of Alan Greenberg

It’s been a dusty day here in BSMW headquarters, as those who worked with Alan Greenberg share their thoughts and memories of the man.

Greenberg’s employer, the Hartford Courant also has a memories page with some of his best work from over the years.

A trust fund has been established for Alan’s three children:

Greenberg Children’s Trust
c/o Citizens Bank
450 Boston Post Road
Sudbury, Massachusetts 01776

For me, it’s been a day of introspection. I obviously knew nothing about the man. I was critical of things he had said from time to time and things that he had written. Clearly from all the things I’m hearing, I had a different (and erroneous) image in my head of who Alan Greenberg was.

I wish I knew him better.

Tell me if you notice a theme throughout these memories:

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Bruce:

I am bummed, big-time, today. Alan Greenberg was a friend.

I go back more than 25 years, to his LA Times days. In all that time, I don’t think we ever spent more than five minutes with him without there being a laugh. He was a tremendous companion.

Let me echo what I’m sure you’ve heard many times: he relished being a dad. The idea that he leaves behind three kids is appalling.

It’s a loss to our business. He was a talent. Even more, he was an intellect. We can’t replace him.

Bob Ryan

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Bruce –

The man wore polo shirts, in February, in Syracuse. He also could eat more without gaining weight than anybody I’ve ever seen. Really. Watching him at a press-box buffet was like watching a wolverine. These were the last two things I teased him about, at some game, last fall. These were the first two things I teased him about, at the Olympics, in LA, back in 1984.

The Times had an incredible A-Team covering those Games — Rick Reilly, Mike Littwin, Scott Ostler, and Alan could play with all of them. Over the next decade, as I became a columnist for the Herald and Alan became one in Hartford, we’d trip over each other at major events the way that columnists always do. It’s a traveling circus that way. We talked politics — very left, very loud — and we talked about movies and we talked about our kids, when they finally came along.

We even talked about sports, but that was a distant fourth, or maybe fifth. One night, on a bus coming back from a late session at the US Open tennis in New York, Alan said that The National, which was just then signing people aboard, had offered him a featuring writing slot, but that he didn’t want to give up the traveling columnist circus at major events. He said he would miss the guys. I believed him. A month later, I took the job that Alan turned down.

Son of a bitch, if I didn’t miss the guys, too.

He was always around, he was always solid, and he was a very fixed point in a business that is changing in so many ways, and not all of them for the better. I bounced a lot of ideas for the Brady book off him during 2005, and he didn’t make a single suggestion that I didn’t follow. He was one of the people I thought I could count on being around forever. He was involved in mankind, he was. Goddamn John Donne anyway.

Charles P. Pierce

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Bruce:

To give you yet another perspective on Alan:

Shortly after I joined the Hartford Courant in 1988, my brother Paul was killed in an automobile accident. He had three little boys. Alan Greenberg, with whom I had just started to work, consistently made it a point to ask me how Paul’s kids were doing. We went out for pizza one night at the Hacienda in Somerville, and Alan, who was unmarried at the time, talked at great length about how much he wanted to raise a family, to have kids. It was a theme to which he often returned. I was not surprised, then, when I read this morning, in The Courant, the words Alan planned to use at his son’s upcoming bar mitzvah:

“I’ve made my living writing about the accomplishments of great athletes, but my greatest accomplishment, my and your mother’s greatest joy, is to introduce you and your sisters, Allison and Abby, as our children.”

That would have been so Alan.

This has already been said by many others, yet bears repeating: Nobody disliked Alan. He will be missed.

Steve Buckley

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Hi Bruce:

Thanks for remembering Alan in your web site today.

I spent six years in the Hartford Whalers PR Department (85-91) when Alan was a columnist at the Courant and got to know him pretty well. I was impressed that a man with so much talent and intelligence was also so down-to-earth.

Although Boston fans know him as a Patriots beat writer and TV guest, he had no peer as a columnist. From the mid-80s to early 90s, his columns were among the finest anywhere.

Despite his immense talent he never took himself too seriously and always brought a smile to my face.

Mark Willand

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Bruce, if you are compiling/posting thoughts on Alan and care to have mine…..

Alan was a kind and gentle soul, different than most of the rest of us. A little more intelligent, a little more thoughtful, a little less volume. But opinionated and tough-minded just the same. Overall, in the years I knew him he cared far more about his children than his job — which is as it should be, of course. His passing his heart-breaking.

Mike Felger

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Hi Bruce –

Even though I didn’t know Alan extremely well, I still can’t believe I’m writing this email, that Alan was taken from his family and the rest of us so suddenly.

To me, Alan was quirky, but in an endearing way. He was always trying to be funny, and frequently put a smile on Bill Belichick’s face with his questions and quick wit. He got along with everyone in the Pats’ cliquish press corps, and was almost proud of his lack of fashion sense.

But it was on a Logan Express bus that I got to know Alan. During the ride to Framingham from Logan, I don’t think we talked about football once. Alan showed me pictures of his children, and it was so clear how proud he was of each of them, so interested in seeing what type of people they would become. He loved that Alex, while not the tallest on his basketball team, had a tenacity and scrappiness to him, and how his daughters loved to swim and take art classes. He knew what was really important, and it wasn’t chasing down agents or trying to find out which free agents are visiting Foxboro next.

Shalise Manza Young

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Hi Bruce,

I’m also shocked by Alan’s sudden death. You just don’t expect to lose a great guy like that so soon. I first met Alan in the early 80’s in LA. I remember he, Peter May and I went out to eat in Alan’s red Nissan, and since I’m a car enthusiast, we spent much of our evening talking about the car, not sports. I can remember us working out together at a gym. He was in great shape.

He eventually moved to New England and spent many years covering the Celtics with us, but the thing I remember most was how much he talked about his wife, his kids, and especially our investments. We spent many hours talking about our stocks and bonds—he was a very accomplished trader. I also remember what an accomplished writer he was. His interview skills were outstanding. While I was muddling along asking guys how they managed to grab so many rebounds, he was asking them about who taught them how to rebound, what’s their technique, etc.—inside stuff that I never thought of. I particularly remember an interview with Dikembe Mutombo during the lockout year when Alan skillfully had Mutombo passionately talking about the hospital he built in Africa. The last time we spoke was during a recent NBA draft. Did we talk about draft prospects? Nah, we were talking about gout. Typical Alan.

–Mike Fine

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Bruce,

Thank you for your tribute to Alan Greenberg. I share the same sentiments as everyone else who’s chimed in this morning. Along with Mark Farinella, Alan was one of the first people to make me feel like part of the family when I began covering the Patriots as a 22-year-old novice coming out of college.

Alan had a great relationship with everyone regardless of age or status. He always shared a few jokes or sang songs in the press room to lighten the mood. He and I had dinner together in Cincinnati this year and I remember how proud he was when he talked about his children. I also bumped into him around Christmastime during a layover at the airport on our way to Jacksonville. His flight was delayed, so he spent time talking to his children on the phone. Thinking about those conversations now makes his passing even more difficult to grasp.

I think Albert Breer summed it up perfectly when he said Alan was “one of the nicest guys” in the Boston sports media. My condolences go out to his family and friends. I hope they someday understand how much he cared for them and how much everyone cared for him.

– Michael Parente

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Hey Bruce,

I’ve never emailed you before, but my name is Jeff Howe. I figured the time was right today. I’ve been at the Boston Metro for almost a year now and started covering the Patriots last season. The news about Alan is tremendously sad, as he was the absolute nicest and most lively person in the room down in Foxboro. He was one of the people I think everyone truly looked forward to seeing on a daily basis.

My favorite story about him came during a typical Belichick press conference. He asked a question regarding the competition committee or something along those lines, and Belichick said “No one really cares what I think,” to which Alan responded, “I care what you think, Bill.” It cracked the room up, and Belichick was laughing so hard he was nearly speechless afterwards. He always made people laugh, whether he was boasting about how he would wear shorts anytime the temperature hit 40 degrees or just during a fun question during a press conference. I remember another time when he and I were standing with Heath Evans for a
couple minutes joking around about a few things.

Anyway, the great thing about Alan that I think is unique from my perspective is the way he treated every single person there. I’m only a year out of college right now so I was typically the youngest and most inexperienced person in Foxboro, but it never stopped him from saying hi or starting a conversation with me. As I’m sure you know, that’s not always the case with sportswriters of his stature. He would offer advice, just how to word a question or how to go about covering a story from a slightly different angle – invaluable little things someone just out of
school is dying to know.

This news is very hard to take, and I’m sure it’s even more difficult for those who have known him for a whole lot longer than I have. He’ll be missed next season. It’s becoming cliché to say things like this during the times of someone’s passing, but it will really never be the same
without Alan around.

Jeff Howe

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Hey Bruce,

I wanted to say thanks to you and David for highlighting Alan’s career and the kind words about him. He was a terrific guy and we are all just stunned and devastated by this. I’m here in Fort Myers with the Sox, and it has been very uplifting to have all the other Boston folks down here pay their respects, especially Nick Cafardo and John Tomase, who worked side-by-side with Alan on the Pats.

I sent my thoughts on Alan to David, who I got to meet down here last week, but I wanted to share it with you as well. On a personal note, I enjoy your site very much, even before I started covering the Red Sox, and I wanted to thank you for the nice things you said about me when it was announced I was taking over the beat. It was a nice little boost of confidence as I was getting started and I still haven’t forgotten it.

This is what I sent David about Alan:

I wanted to add my thoughts, particularly to highlight work that he did before we entered the digital age at the Courant and began archiving in 1991. As everyone in Connecticut knows, the 1990 UConn men’s team, “The Dream Season” was our equivalent of the 1967 Red Sox, in terms of capturing the imagination of the state and creating what is now a perennial national power under Jim Calhoun.

Tate George’s buzzer-beater against Clemson is the most famous moment, but the player who captured our imagination that season was Nadav Henefeld, from Israel, who played the game like Larry Bird. They called him “The Gaza Stripper,” because of his great instincts on defense.
Without question, Alan’s best columns that season were about Henefeld. Certainly, the Jewish community in Connecticut took great pride in Henefeld, and I think Alan had that feeling as well, and it showed itself in beautifully written columns.

The one I remember most was when Henefeld, bowing to pressure back home in the summer of 1991, left UConn after that one season to play professionally in Israel. It was clear Henefeld didn’t want to leave, and the column Alan wrote about his tortured decision, and the end of the “Dream Season” that came with it, was just brilliant.

I was going to send the copy of it along for your readers, but I could not find it in the archives. It’s too bad. I would love to go back and read all those columns again. They were wonderful. So was Alan.

Jeff Goldberg

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Good afternoon Bruce,

As the final producer for the “Ted Nation” program, I got to know Alan Greenberg quite well since he became a frequent co-host with Ted. Out of all the things people have written about him after this tragedy, I really think the message you received and posted from Albert Breer truly encapsulated Alan as a person. He was so well-rounded and intelligent that when we were in commercial breaks or chatting before or after shows, the subject matter was rarely sports. Whether it was exchanging stories from our days as Syracuse University undergraduates, or Alan filling me in on the latest news about Alex, Allison, and Abigail; I always looked forward to the days I scheduled Alan to co-host because I knew there would be some engaging conversation.

I first met Alan when I took over as Ted’s full-time producer, and he told me something that I will never forget and still abide by to this day: “Make sure sports is a job and don’t let it be the only thing you are passionate about. There’s more to life than just watching sports, and it’s easy to forget that in such a sports-crazed town like Boston.”

My deepest sympathies go out to his family in what will undoubtedly be a very difficult time. In a field where the majority of people you work with on a daily basis I consider to be “colleagues”, I can honestly say that Alan and I were friends.

–Marc Merriman
Producer, WEEI

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Bruce,

Since 2002, I’ve sat right next to Alan Greenberg in the press box since the team moved into Gillette Stadium.

He was easily the most heartfelt man on the beat, whose top concern was always his wife and family, not the game.

Here was a man who truly cared about people.

I will always remember the days after 9/11, Joe Andruzzi speaking about how his brothers survived the WTC disaster and how much Alan truly cared about Joe and his brothers.

That was just Alan.

Hector Longo.