By BOB McGINN
As I listened to the remarks delivered by Jerry Jones at his Pro Football Hall of Fame induction several weeks ago, some of the most touching moments came as he warmly introduced and, in turn, thanked his three children.
Jones said he was blessed to have been able to work side-by-side on a daily basis with his sons and daughter in the family business.
Now I have something in common with the owner of the Dallas Cowboys.
Welcome to Bob McGinn Football, a business venture that my son, Charlie, and I now are introducing.
The chance to work with Charlie, the youngest of my three children, was an opportunity I just could not pass up. It is the main reason why I’ll be back for a 39th season writing about the Green Bay Packers in much the same manner my readers have become accustomed.
In our planning sessions, Charlie told me, “Dad, I just want you to worry about writing. I’ll handle everything else.”
Anyone who knows me would understand I’d have no chance to do something like this without significant guidance in the financial, technical, marketing and legal end of the business world.
True to his word, Charlie has done it all using his keen interpersonal skills developed through his career in national sales. What he didn’t know about media websites three months ago, he learned through his intensive research and bulldog approach.
We’re calling ourselves co-owners of the startup, and with all the work Charlie has put in I surely don’t intend to disappoint him in the content department.
Being an entrepreneur for the first time is exciting, to say the least, but it does run in the family. My daughter, Maggie, became a business owner last year with her decision to renovate and open Dame Salon Spa, a full-service Aveda salon with 15 employees, in De Pere. My daughter, Erin, works with small-business owners and dreamers as an executive in the non-profit realm for Reggie and Sara White’s Urban Hope Entrepreneur Center (E-Hub) in Green Bay.
It was our decision initially not to seek investors. We are beginning as a subscription-based website that will produce Packers and NFL content from Sept. 1 through about May 1.
Our season will end with my 34th annual NFL Draft Series, which began during my 15 years at the Green Bay Press-Gazette and 26 years at both The Milwaukee Journal and then the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
It wasn’t long after I chose to leave the Journal Sentinel in early May that Charlie broached the idea of somehow keeping the draft series alive. He regarded it as having almost a cult-like following among readers who doted on every word, and was curious if I’d consider doing it again.
As always, I was burned out from the grind of another Packers season and draft, and gave the notion short shrift.
About that time some other opportunities to write about the Packers and the league came up, but nothing that led me to interrupt what I had referred to from the start as a semi-retirement.
My plan was to play golf three or four times a week, just like in recent summers, but with the difference being I wouldn’t have to put away the clubs at the start of training camp.
Figuring I had all fall to play for the first time, I was waiting for warm weather when the plan changed. I injured my shoulder lifting weights and, now, despite therapy and daily rehab, still can’t swing a club.
Golf has been my vehicle to renew acquaintances with friends in my native Upper Peninsula, in Green Bay and southeast Wisconsin. Without it, I found myself going more than a little stir crazy.
One day probably two years ago Dennis Krause, the host for Spectrum Sports in Milwaukee and the Packers Pre-Game Show, stopped me coming out of the press auditorium in Green Bay. He told me about a sports website in Pittsburgh that was in its infancy but was showing early signs of success.
Krause suggested it was something that might be up my alley. As he recalls it, I dismissed the idea, saying, “I like working for newspapers.”
Then and now, I couldn’t have been happier working all those years at the newspapers in Milwaukee. That website, DK on Pittsburgh Sports, could have been on Mars for all I knew or cared. There was no time to even think twice about a career change. I always had another column to write and deadline to meet. If I was guilty of having tunnel vision, I’m proud of it.
Today, that website, as founded by Dejan Kovacevic in 2014, has emerged as a stunning success story in these changing times of sports journalism.
DK has an expanding staff of full-time employees covering not just the Steelers but also Pittsburgh’s other pro sports teams, Penn State, Pitt, Duquesne and other colleges.
Greg Bedard, my ex-colleague on the Packers beat, last month launched a website similar to DK called Boston Sports Journal. Bedard and his writers are covering the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and other teams in New England.
The response from readers upon my departure was humbling, to say the least. It also provided me with hundreds of unintentional exit interviews with readers telling me what they liked most about my coverage.
After this many years, everyone should pretty much know how I do things.
You know that I keep my own counsel, do my own research and chart my own key statistics.
You know that as I learn more about the game I will pass it along to readers.
You know that if the Packers and their players play well, I’ll write it, and if they don’t, I’ll write that.
There were things about beat work that got old. Now, in a less structured environment, I’m looking forward to experimenting somewhat and offering some fresh slants to football coverage.
Rest assured, however, you can look forward to seeing most of my traditional anchor pieces that readers told me they would miss the most.
At newspapers, I looked upon my role to some extent as being a writer of record. I wanted sports historians to be able to examine my work and that of my colleagues to get a complete picture of all those seasons in Green Bay.
Now that changes. As the only full-time writer on staff, we won’t cover everything. Just because news of some sort breaks doesn’t mean you’ll find it on our website.
We’ll break news on occasion but that won’t be our focus. We’ll be picking and choosing our stories based on my editorial direction.
Although retired general manager Ron Wolf once cautioned about never hiring your friends, I did. I didn’t think twice about Mark Eckel, Rob Reischel or Dennis Grall because their work ethic, talent and professionalism has been abundantly clear to me over their long careers in sportswriting and sports photography.
Eckel, one of the NFL’s most intuitive and fearless beat writers for more than 30 years, left the Eagles beat just after the 2017 NFL Draft and will serve as copy chief. A lifetime Packers fanatic, his knowledge of the team knows no bounds.
The plan is for Reischel, who has been covering the Packers for Packer Plus since 2001, to contribute a story or two each week in his direct, informative style. From features to game stories to commentary, Reischel writes crisp, clean copy and always has an edge.
The plan is for Grall, the consummate small-town sports editor who has been working the sidelines shooting photos at Packers home games for almost two decades, to contribute his award-winning work.
Now we need the NFL and the Packers to approve credentials for our fledging enterprise.
Charlie, as perceptive a student of all sports as I know, is a fantasy-football maven who will own that area of our coverage menu. He also will be joining me in our podcast, which will debut soon.
In preparation, I attended seven Packers practices in their entirety over the last month, spent even more hours than in the past breaking down tape of their exhibition games and began resuming relations with the personnel people and coaches that have helped me immeasurably over the decades.
People told me I’d know when it was time to retire. It’s a fine line, as I discovered, and it wasn’t time for me. Having the privilege to work hand-in-hand with my son and the timing of the bad wing made up my mind to get back in.
We embark with eyes and ears open anxious for the many challenges that await. We’ll give it our all over the next eight months and see what happens.
Thanks for reading, and we hope you enjoy what will be here starting Sept. 1.
Now you’ll have to excuse me. It’s time for me to get back to work.