The passing of a legend


We all have those people who had a big influence in our careers, whether it be parents or bosses or colleagues. One of them for me was Tom McEwen, who passed away at the age of 88 on Sunday.

His influence in the Tampa Bay area was incredible. Sports fans in that area owe more to him than any owner, coach or athlete.

But his influence on generations of sports hacks is even more enduring. Tom had an ego but he never let that get in the way of helping young guys navigate their way through the shark-filled waters of being a journalist. The advice he gave me during my time as a stringer for the Tampa Tribune helped make me who I am.

The last time I saw him was at The Outback Bowl and it was sad. He had lost a leg and did not look like the vibrant center of attention he was in every press box or hospitality room.

In this world we live in, too many people have streets named after them. Not Tom McEwen Boulevard next to Raymond James Stadium. They could name a dozen streets after him and not do the man justice.


  1. Tampa’s Tom McEwen, Miami’s Edwin Pope … guys who made the sports world funner with a bit of pathos and a touch of humor. And they did it with words, and on deadline, day after day. God bless ’em.
    They made my mornings snap, crackle and pop.

  2. Rest in peace Tom, your articles about the Gators helped fuel my love for all things UF when I was a youngster growing up in my hometown of Lakeland. Thanks for the memories. You are my favorite alltime sports writer. God bless!

  3. I lived in Tampa for a number of years and loved every article that Tom wrote. After I left I continued to read his words via the internet ( what a super invention). Now I spend my mornings reading the sports page of the Gainsville paper. I live in Pensacola and am not blessed with much from the local paper. Glad you had a chance to learn from one of the best.
    Have a SUPER Gator day!!!

  4. I agree 76Gator, the giants of sports journalism are a dying breed. Too much emphasis by sports reporters now is placed on the “gotcha” brand of reporting. I used “sports journalism” in the first sentence and “sports reporting” in the second for very specific reasons. What “sports reporters” haven’t figured out is that, while the athlete and their actions are the story, the media is their conduit to the public. All three, athlete, media outlet and journalist/reporter are required in order that a story is made known to the public. If you burn the athlete, there’s no reason for them to talk to you. The giants knew it, the reporters haven’t figured that out yet…

  5. I grew up reading Tom McEwen’s reporting and opinions. I am convinced the Tampa sports scene would not exist as it does today were it not for Tom. He had a way of stating things pointedly without offending. He had a self-depricating way that made it hard to be angry at him on anything he wrote even though you might have disagreed with it. i always looked forward to his breakfast bonus columns and wondered if he actually ate the morning fare he described in away that could make Hemingway envious!

  6. We live 550 miles from Gainesville, have seldom lived very close since graduation in 1972 with JM degree and sportswriting background. My all-time favorite time back on campus involved Tom McEwen, who spoke to a delighted gathering of grads and our spouses over breakfast in Weimer Hall for Homecoming weekend. What a terrific gentleman, fine writer and humorist he was! And a splendid sports journalist indeed. I quoted him the other day and have numerous times. Thanks, Pat, for your personal tribute to one of the best.

  7. Great sportswriter, friend and person. Him and I didn’t always agree but he was consistently fair and honest in his reporting — he shot straight. Great insight into the human condition. He loved the Gators in his heart away from his journalistic impartiality. He will be missed.