ESPN writer: My column was all about Rick Majerus, not getting back at CJR

“The Columbia Journalism Review might not like it, but when the 300-pound [Rick] Majerus cornered you for a hug, well, you were getting a hug.”

I wondered if ESPN columnist Gene Wojciechowski had this recent CJR piece (“ESPN’s unreality-based coverage”) in mind when he wrote the above line in his Rick Majerus tribute.

No, he tells me.

I wasn’t aware of the magazine piece. I wasn’t aware of anything when I wrote my column, other than one of my best friends had died.

I was at the SEC Championship, doing a little something for the College GameDay show, and then writing a column off the game later that night. I found out about Rick’s death in the Georgia Dome press box after I returned from the postgame locker rooms. I caught a ride back to the hotel with Tom Rinaldi, pulled out my laptop and started writing about my buddy.

As for the CJR and my column, it was an innocent coincidence.

Wojciechowski (pictured above) mentions that the late basketball coach loved his Sheboygan, Wis., boyhood friends “more than big-money boosters.” The Sheboygan Press interviewed some of those friends for today’s page one story. One pal recalls how Majerus would order three double-brats — without buns — and a pitcher of Pepsi. “He would get two Styrofoam cups, one filled with ketchup, the other with mustard, and would dip each of the six brats in both before devouring them, [the childhood friend] recalls.” (Here’s the Sheboygan paper’s front page with the Majerus story.)

* Rick Majerus gave his heart and help (espn.go.com)
* ESPN’s unreality-based coverage (cjr.org)

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