ESPN.com senior writer Len Pasquarelli is the 2008 recipient of the Dick McCann Memorial Award, named after the first director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The award is presented by the Pro Football Writers of America in recognition of long and distinguished reporting in the field of pro football. Pasquarelli, who has been recovering from heart surgery since the Super Bowl in February, made the following remarks upon receiving the award at a Hall of Fame ceremony Friday night in Canton, Ohio:
"I am proud and humbled and grateful to stand on the shoulders of people like Vito Stellino, Ira Miller, Jerry Magee, the late Will McDonough, all of whom won this award. They were my mentors, and I'm certainly hopeful that I can mentor some of the upcoming writers in their coverage of the greatest game on earth.
"Several weeks ago during my rehabilitation, during which I watched way too much TV -- I'm an expert on One Life to Live, Days of Our Lives, etc. -- I watched an interview with Glenn Frey, the co-founder of the Eagles. He was asked by Steve Kroft of 60 Minutes why the Eagles' new album, which took 28 years to record, sounded like many of their old albums. And he simply said, 'Words are not replenishable resources.' I took those words to heart, because they allow me to finally say the things that are on my mind, and to say thank you.
"I need to thank a lot of people tonight, starting with -- and she's going to kill me when I say this -- my sainted wife Susan. She's been taking care of me for a lot of years, and has really taken care of me the last two years. She raised my wonderful children -- who are here, along with my son's fiancé. Thanks to my younger brother and my younger sister, who have taken great care of my parents over the last few years, who are in a nursing home in Pittsburgh. They taught me the importance of doing the little things well, and in treating this job as a privilege more than anything else.
"So as I said, I'm proud to stand on the shoulders of all of the people who came before me, and am grateful for their mentorship. I want to thank Commissioner Roger Goodell and various vice presidents of the NFL here tonight for their graciousness to me. I want to thank my employer, ESPN, for being very gracious and patient as I have rehabilitated -- especially Patrick Stiegman, John Skipper, John Banks and all of the people at ESPN.com, who have been great.
"And finally, to my mentor of all time, Chris Mortensen, who was there when I needed it the most -- whom we trusted with the duty of calling my children and telling them I was undergoing quintuple bypass surgery in February. Then in April, when I didn't know what was still bothering me, my wife called Chris Mortensen and said, 'Chris, use all of your resources to find the best intern in America to find out what's the matter with my husband, and why he's been lying on the couch for three weeks. It can't be the heart surgery.' The next day, the personal physician of Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons, called me. He set me straight on what was ailing me, and hopefully I'll be back again at some point soon, covering this great game again.
"And my winning of this award would not be complete without my thanking of three doctors of St. Joseph's Hospital in Phoenix, who were my guardian angels, and who helped me on Super Bowl Sunday undergo that bypass. ... Thank all of you very much.
"If I had to leave you with one message tonight, it would be: 'Do the little things well, and do them over and over again.' There's no way Fred Dean and Andre Tippett got all of those sacks without practicing that swim move or cornering that quarterback. There's no way Darrell Green or Emmitt Thomas could intercept a pass without covering a lot of 8-yard outs during practice. There's no way Art Monk made the Hall of Fame without catching all of those short passes, along with the long passes, and walking to the huddle along with John Riggins. There's no way Gary Zimmerman would have made it without all of those cut blocks for a lot of years in Denver, and non-cut blocks in Minnesota, becoming one of the greatest tackles of all time.
"So appreciate the little things. They do mean a lot in life. If you do the little things over and over enough, small victories can add up. And I hope that they add up for me real soon so I can get back to covering this game I love so much.
"Thank you again to Commissioner Goodell, everybody from the Hall of Fame and everyone who is here tonight. This has been a wonderful weekend. Canton, you've outdone yourself, believe me."