Join Now | 
HomeAboutContact UsPrivacy & SecurityAdvertise
Soccer America DailySpecial EditionAround The NetSoccer Business InsiderCollege Soccer ReporterYouth Soccer ReporterSoccer on TVSoccer America Classifieds
Paul Gardner: SoccerTalkSoccer America ConfidentialYouth Soccer InsiderWorld Cup Watch
RSS FeedsArchivesManage SubscriptionsSubscribe
Order Current IssueSubscribeManage My SubscriptionRenew My SubscriptionGift Subscription
My AccountJoin Now
Tournament CalendarCamps & AcademiesSoccer GlossaryClassifieds
OBITUARY: Tom McEwen (1923-2011)
by Paul Kennedy, June 6th, 2011 5:58PM

MOST READ
TAGS:  obituary, soccer business


Tampa didn't make it as an MLS market, but back in the day it was as big or bigger than NASL markets such as Seattle or Portland that have become huge hits in MLS. A lot of the credit goes to the the former Tampa Tribune sports editor Tom McEwen, who died Sunday at the age of 88. When soccer-bashing was the rule rather than the exception, McEwen was influential as one of the first members of the sports media establishment to support soccer.

McEwen is best known for support of the NFL Buccaneers, who played their first season in 1976, but a year earlier Tampa welcomed the Rowdies. All they did in their first season was win the Soccer Bowl, the NASL's championship game.

The Rowdies could have been buried by the Buccaneers, but they took off in Tampa, thanks to their carefree attitude.

"The Rowdies are a kick in the grass" was their motto, and it stuck.

They stood out with their green and gold uniforms and charismatic players like Rodney Marsh, dubbed the "Clown Prince."

Until the late 1970s, before cable television and the Internet, the sports editors of local newspapers wielded considerable count. They not only covered the story, they were often part of the story.

McEwen was one of the giants, legendary for his friendship with players and owners alike.

Ted Williams hated sportswriters but he liked McEwen.

McEwen once gave then-San Francisco 49ers owner Eddie DeBartolo access to his hotel room so he could secretly sign Bill Walsh to coach his NFL team.

Los Angeles Times sports columnist Jim Murray once quipped, "Tom has been more important to Tampa than cigars."

McEwen not only helped bring soccer and pro football to Tampa, he helped bring MLB and the NHL to Florida's West Coast.

The NFL, MLB and the NHL would have thrived whether or not they ever stopped in Tampa, but soccer's early success in Tampa was essential to the (fleeting) success the NASL enjoyed.

Today, few sports editors at major papers have the time to write, but in his day, McEwen cranked out six columns a week and a letters-to-the-editor column on Sunday.

His coverage of the Rowdies in his "The Morning After" column gave them legitimacy when legitimacy was everything for soccer.

And for that, soccer fans in Tampa and elsewhere owe Tom McEwen a tip of the hat.



No comments yet.

Sign in to leave a comment. Don't have an account? Join Now




AUTHORS

ARCHIVES
FOLLOW SOCCERAMERICA

Recent Soccer America Daily
Revs deny Fire win thanks to Shuttleworth (with help from Alston)    
[MLS: Week 7] Bobby Shuttleworth saved Juan Luis Anangono's penalty kick in the 90th minute after ...
Altidore helps lead Sunderland to stunning win at Chelsea    
[AMERICANS ABROAD] Jozy Altidore's tally for the season is still one goal (in now 28 English ...
What They're Saying    
"I saw it on the computer and I understand why they can be talking if it ...
U.S. under-20 national team wins semifinal thriller    
[DALLAS CUP] Rubio Rubin scored his second goal of the game on a rebound of his ...
What They're Saying    
"Miami's greatness is about the interaction of a vibrant culture and the water. We will earn ...
Strikers will test measure of progress at Carolina    
[NASL: Week 2] The Fort Lauderdale Strikers, seventh and fifth in the NASL's two half-seasons, will ...
Chelsea takes on its U-8s    
[VIDEO PICK: Off the Post] Chelsea's John Terry, David Luiz, Frank Lampard et al took on ...
Collins John slapped with three-game suspension    
[USL PRO: Week 5] The USL PRO career of Collins John, the Liberian-born Dutch international who ...
What They're Saying    
"There is no problem. Tensions are a bit high; I have no problem with that. They ...
Chivas USA's McNamara faces knee surgery    
[MLS INJURY REPORT] Rookie Thomas McNamara, who had started every game for Chivas USA until being ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives