Full Circle

Back when I was a student at the University of Delaware, I worked as sports editor—then, as a senior, editor in chief—of the student newspaper, The Review.

At the time, Delaware was the little journalism program that could. Journalism was neither a major nor minor at the college. We had, I believe, four full-time professors, as well as an adjunct, Bill Fleischman, who was a longtime star at the Philadelphia Daily News. Yet, despite facilities and depth that would be laughingstocks at schools like Missouri and North Carolina and Syracuse, we routinely popped out one of the most decorated college publications in the country.

For many on staff, the motivation was landing a job.

For others, it was the power of the pen in offering a voice.

For me, it was Mike Freeman.

Six years before I came along, Mike has been sports editor, then editor, of The Review. By the time I arrived, he was covering the Nets and (later) Giants for the New York Times. He was exactly who and what I wanted to be. So how’d I respond? By reading everything Mike Freeman. Everything he once wrote at The Review (we had yellowed bound versions on a shelf in the office). Everything he wrote at the Times. I’d study his transitions, his word choices, his style. When he came to Fleischman’s class as a guest speaker, I hung on every word, and later sent him my clips to review (which he kindly did).

Truly, I can’t understate the importance of Mike Freeman upon my career. He displayed for me what was possible, even for someone coming from a small, unknown program like ours.

I bring this all up because, a few weeks ago, I was asked to return as a panelist for another Cali taping of Jim Rome’s excellent show. It’s something I always enjoy doing, and I jump at the opportunity. When I inquired into who I’d be paired with, the producer wrote back, “Mike Freeman.”

Mike Freeman!

I’ve now known Mike for many years. He’s someone who’s been helpful throughout my career; someone who kindly blurbed one of my books; who’s always been kind and helpful and available. We’re peers. Colleagues.

Still, in a way, I remain that college kid, excited to be sitting alongside the guy who blazed the path for Blue Hen sports writers.

It feels as if it’s all come full circle.