A tribute to a legend

James Evans

In early January, tragedy struck both the newspaper and sports worlds, as Will McDonough, a pillar of both the writing and sports communities, died. McDonough, 67, had been a sports writer for The Boston Globe for the last 41 years. He was known for his straight-forward reporting style, never wavering from one side to another and always reliable to get across a great story and provide his fans with an exclusive.

McDonough, a “son of Southie,” grew up in South Boston and attended English High School in Jamaica Plain, where he played three sports. Injuries forced McDonough to stop playing sports, and he decided to trade in his jersey for a pen and a pad of paper. As a student at Northeastern University, McDonough worked at The Boston Globe as part of a co-op program and covered high school sports. Once he graduated from Northeastern, he landed a job as a reporter with The Globe. McDonough, an eager kid, started out covering everything he could. He eventually landed the role as the beat reporter for both the Boston Celtics and the Boston Red Sox and covered most of the college teams as well. However, it was in the mid-1960’s when McDonough accepted an assignment that would change his life: coverage of the Boston Patriots and the AFL. Once the AFL and NFL merger was complete, McDonough was a hot commodity both locally and nationally. McDonough’s knowledge of the game eventually earned him the title of “Mr. Pro Football.”

McDonough’s talents far exceeded that of just his writing capabilities. He would make guest appearances on local television and radio shows throughout the city of Boston and was offered an on-air job to cover football for CBS. McDonough’s radio experience dwarfed that of a regular radio host, as he had a weekly radio-show with now Dallas Cowboys coach Bill Parcells, co-hosted a show each Friday morning with former Globe employee Mike Barnicle and was a regular on his son Sean McDonough’s radio show.

However, if you couldn’t find McDonough on the radio, you could most certainly find him on the tube, as he was a regular guest on “Patriots Pregame,” “Sports Final” and “5th Quarter.”

McDonough retired from The Boston Globe in 2001, but decided to stay on as a freelance reporter and provide his fans with one article a week.

He was never afraid to say what was on his mind. This was evident in his final article, written on Jan. 4 of this year, when he attacked Red Sox President Larry Lucchino for insulting the Yankees’ George Steinbrenner. This article provided Boston sports talk radio shows with a week’s worth of material, eventually culminating into an interview with McDonough and Lucchino.

To say that Will McDonough was a great writer would be an understatement. McDonough singlehandedly changed the way sports are reported today and gave the fans a different way to look at them.