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

MOST COMMENTED

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
Where to Watch European Soccer    
Here are 329 places Soccer America readers recommend where you should go to watch soccer for ...
Mario Goetze's beautiful backward nutmeg on Brecko    
[VIDEO PICK: Skills] Mario Goetze, Germany's World Cup final hero, not only has a nose for ...
This season's most amazing free kick so far    
[VIDEO PICK: Golazo] You can hardly blame Hamburg SV goalkeeper Jaroslav Drobny for remaining rooted to ...
Soccer America Power Rankings    
[MLS: Week 29] Robbie Keane ran wild in the major-market matchup of Designated Players to keep ...
What They're Saying: Landon Donovan    
"I've always tried to be a guy who makes the right play in front of the ...
Onus on Cavani for PSG against Barcelona    
[UCL: Three Games to Watch] Paris St. Germain-Barcelona is the marquee match of Matchday 2 in ...
What They're Saying: Paul McGinley    
"I bounced ideas off him all week, he didn't preach to me, he didn't tell me ...
MLS's nouveau riche dominate millionaire club    
[MAKING A LIST] Big money has been flowing into Major League Soccer. Of the 15 players ...
USA and Brazil to play U-23 match in Brasilia    
[DATEBOOK] The U.S. World Cup team never got to Brasilia, falling in the round of 16 ...
Report: Chivas USA set to go on hiatus after 2014 season    
[MLS SPOTLIGHT] The news should come as no surprise. Chivas USA, sold back to MLS by ...
>> Soccer America Daily Archives