I’m ashamed that it’s taken me this long to post anything about NFL Sports Journalist and former Buffalo Bills beat writer Larry Felser’s passing. Most people who read this blog are likely not old enough to remember Felser very well. After all he did retire from writing in February of 2001. The words I jot down in this post aren’t going to do Mr. Felser’s legacy any justice so for a truly great article on his incredible life and contributions to the sports world please take a minute to read Mark Gaughan’s obituary at http://www.buffalonews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20130424/SPORTS/130429553/1032.
Instead of blurting out facts that I found on the Buffalo News website or Wikipedia, I figured I’d take a second to honor a man who has paved the way for sports journalists for decades in my own way. One of my earliest memories as a child is my father reading me Felser’s articles in The Sporting News on Sunday mornings before the Bills played. With little to no knowledge of the sport of football at the time I took it for what it was worth, quality time with my dad. As I grew older and became more interested in sports, particularly football I began to take an active interest in sports journalism. I can remember reading articles written by legends of the written word like Vic Carruci and Felser. When the Bills were blacked out locally, my dad, his friend and I would drive up to Victor just to watch regular season games of a mediocre Bills team led by Todd Collins. I remember sitting in the backseat of my dad’s car reading Felser’s articles before that day’s game. In my teen years I think back about going to the gas station or 711 to pick up a copy of the Buffalo News just so I could read Felser’s column. He awoke something in me that I wouldn’t truly understand for years.
In my adolescence I was never really sure what career path I would follow. After watching movies like John Grisham’s “The Rainmaker” and Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” I thought I would become a public defender or litigator. My love for animals as a child gave me ideas of one day becoming a veterinarian. My 4th grade teacher and lifelong mentor Sonya Werner told me I should be a gerontologist because of my close-knit relationship with my favorite person in the world, my grandmother. Neither came to fruition.
As the years past and the urgency of picking a profession became greater and greater I decided a few days before I left for my freshman year at St. John Fisher College that I wanted to be a sports journalist. Memories of Mr. Felser’s columns and listening to the Howard Simon show with my father in car rides, to a sporting destination no doubt, on WNSA spurred a passion that I still have to this day. I wanted to talk about, report on and write about sports. Though I haven’t fully realized my goal of turning my passion in to my profession, remembering those Sunday mornings reading and listening to my father speak the passionate words of a true giant in the industry still gives me hope that one day I’ll realize my dreams. In many ways Larry Felser shaped my life in to what it is today. Although I don’t work for a major sporting outlet or a professional sports organization I still get to do what I’m truly passionate about, writing about sports. The world lost a great man on Thursday, April 25th and I lost one of my true mentors. Rest in peace Larry, you’ll be in my thoughts forever.