Just wanted to provide you with an update on one of the most significant figures in the history of the NFC South. The man’s name is Tom McEwen.
He was the long-time sports editor and columnist for The Tampa Tribune. If you think this item is just about the Bucs and Tampa, it's not -- keep reading. McEwen’s a large part of the reason there is an NFC South.
Back in his heyday, when the rules for journalists were a little different, McEwen was sort of the sports mayor for Tampa and an ambassador for the South. McEwen helped Tampa Bay get a franchise, a new stadium and helped make it a regular spot in the Super Bowl rotation. McEwen also is the man who almost single-handedly got Lee Roy Selmon elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The man had clout in some very high places (we’re talking the NFL offices and politicians) and he used it. Not just for Tampa, either. I know for a fact McEwen was a big supporter of Carolina getting a franchise. If you don't believe me, just ask Jerry Richardson. I wasn’t around when New Orleans and Atlanta came into the league, but I’ve heard tales that McEwen supported those two efforts and also lobbied a bit for Super Bowls in those towns. If it was good for the South, McEwen saw it as being good for Tampa and the man got a lot of things done in his career.
I’m happy to report that McEwen, 84, is doing well. He had some pretty major health issues back in the fall and things were touch and go for a while. But a group of about a dozen of us who worked for McEwen at the Tribune back in the 1990s (and some from even before that) got together with him for lunch at his Tampa home earlier this afternoon.
Tom says he’s feeling pretty well. He looks good and his spirits were as strong as ever. The man is a treasure chest of stories about sports and Tampa Bay and, really, the entire South. As followers of the NFC South, we should all be grateful for this man and all he’s done. McEwen helped build the NFC South and make it what it is today.