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RIP: Bob Oates

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by SoCalDude, Apr 28, 2009.

  1. SoCalDude

    SoCalDude Active Member

    A busy day in heaven. Bob joins Jim Murray, Earl Gustkey, Shav Glick and Mal Florence in the Sanctuary of LAT:

  2. Michael_ Gee

    Michael_ Gee Well-Known Member

    I remember Bob's byline on the NFL preview section of Street & Smith's football yearbook from when I was a little kid in the 1950s and it was the back of the book.
    As a grown-up, it was a pure thrill to meet him at a Super Bowl.
    RIP to a very big one.
  3. DanOregon

    DanOregon Well-Known Member

    Don't forget Mallamud.
  4. Birdscribe

    Birdscribe Active Member

    One of the few who covered (I think) each of the first 39 Super Bowls, even after he was purged from the LA Times. Back when I cared about the NFL and my formerly beloved LA Rams, I'd read Oates all the time.

    Ninety three. Yeah, SoCal, it's getting rather crowded in the LA chapter of the Great Beyond Press Box.
  5. shockey

    shockey Active Member

    damn, sad news. i also grew up reading bob, then had the pleasure of meeting him at several supes.

    may we all be blessed to put off having rip's come our way until we're 93.
  6. Joe Williams

    Joe Williams Well-Known Member

    Wait, they were purging back then? And they purged Bob Oates?

    We can count the number of great talents and swell folks for whom this business ended respectfully and appreciatively a hell of a lot easier than we can all those for whom it did not.

    Possibly my biggest regret about giving a professional lifetime to this: Hardly any role models and few of them are allowed to age or exit gracefully, without being dicked around with at one or more points in their careers. Yet they were giants compared to the grocery clerks doing the dicking.
  7. MileHigh

    MileHigh Moderator Staff Member

    Damn, another one grew up reading. And, yes, he was one of the handful to have covered all the Super Bowls up to 39.
    I think there are three or four left now.
  8. SoCalDude

    SoCalDude Active Member

    I have this one story that points up the influence -- fortunate or unfortunate -- of these great all-time writers.
    In 1988, Troy Aikman is UCLA's quarterback. Oates -- who hadn't been to a game or practice for as long as I could remember -- comes to the last game of the season against USC. On one play, Aikman has a receiver open deep, the ball kinda slips out of his hand, wobbles a little bit and comes up short of the receiver. That was one pass in a game the Bruins lost to Trojans, but went to the Cotton Bowl anyway.
    Next day in the Times, Oates writes: "Aikman can't throw the long ball."
    Couple days later, I check out some national media analysis, and report after report says, "Aikman can't throw the long ball." Obviously all of those guys got their information from Oates because nobody else who had seen the Bruins play would have thought that.
    That was Oates' influence, even though he was wrong. And over the years, I supposed he earned the right to be that influential.
    Unfortunately for us beat guys, Terry Donahue had that as ammunition whenever we were critical of someone or something. "What do you guys know ... you think Aikman can't throw the long ball," Donahue could always shoot back at us.
  9. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    I don't mean any disrespect to Oates, but that story is a prime example of why you should never think that experience alone gives you the right to stop working.

    If coaches or scouts tell you that he can't throw the long ball, fine. But don't make that a fact based on one pass in the only game you saw.
  10. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    Joe (and Birdscribe), I'm not sure Oates really was what you'd call "purged," or "dicked around with."

    Heck, his leaving the Times might have even been by his own choice, although I'm not sure of that.

    But, think about it. If he left his full-time job there in 1995, as the Times' story says, well, that was the year that the Rams -- his beat -- left town. And, he was 80 years old, or nearing that, at the time, too.

    I don't care how good or respected you are at what you do, or how much you love it. By that age, thoughts of retirement probably are at least starting to creep into your head.

    And beyond that, he also was a regular contributor to the Times, anyway -- specializing in football-related matters -- even after he left, albeit as a freelancer. But he wasn't just your garden-variety freelancer. The paper called on him to write about issues and historical matters, and asked him to write analysis and columns, all up until two years ago. And, given who he was, I'm sure he was compensated accordingly for those efforts.

    I'm sorry, but this doesn't sound like mistreatment, or misdirected disrespect, to me.
  11. SoCalDude

    SoCalDude Active Member

    I sure writethinking's post is the accurate version.
  12. Birdscribe

    Birdscribe Active Member

    That's probably the case, and it was hard for me to realize Oates was in his 80s when he left the Times. But IIRC, he left in Mark "the Cereal Killer" Willes' 1995 purge.

    And I do remember him being brought in to write on a plethora of subjects, most notably NFL issues, naturally.
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