SNIDER: Saying goodbye to the region's best sports writer

Rick Snider
July 10, 2018 - 5:27 pm

Photo courtesy Capital Gazette


We said goodbye to John McNamara.

The best sports writer around Washington-Baltimore-Annapolis who was too often overlooked, and one of the best people I knew, was remembered by nearly 1,000 people on Tuesday at the University of Maryland chapel. He was among the five people murdered (forget the sanitized term 'killed') in the Annapolis Capital Gazette newsroom on June 28.

And we're all poorer for losing John.

John loved his faith, family, friends, and I wish I could say football to keep the alliteration going, but really it was Maryland basketball that was his passion. Oh, John loved all basketball. He even had a deadly left-handed jumper in pickup games.

But Terrapins basketball was John's second love after his wife Andrea. With an encyclopedia knowledge, John even impressed coaches Gary Williams and Mark Turgeon, who were among the crowd listening to the hour-long memorial. And, nobody impresses Williams.

John was a fantastic sports writer, but not many enjoyed his work given he toiled in Annapolis. The locals knew and loved him, fellow writers always sought his counsel and young journalists were lucky to be mentored by him.

John could have worked for a Washington or Baltimore daily or a national outlet given his basketball expertise. He would have been a national name because John always knew about some upcoming guard at a small school anywhere in the country. But, he liked working on a community paper. When his paper downsized a few years ago and needed John to leave sports for community news, it wasn't an easy move. Still, he did it with grace and professionalism. I advised him to stay the last few years until retirement. I wish now I had just said, "The hell with it, let's both go sell ice cream at the beach."

I wish John's death drew more than people's prayers and best wishes. But, the truth is nothing will stop the near-daily mass murders nationwide. If shooting elementary school kids wasn't enough to provoke change, I fear our country is falling apart. Maybe I sound like one of those bitter, old people, but it's true.

All I know is John was a good man who didn't deserve to die by some demented person who gained nothing from the death of five people. And I know John is with God now, so in the coming days and months when I don't see my friend of the last 37 years on a sideline, I’ll be comforted that John is OK.

I wish you had known John. Certainly, I was better for having done so.

Rick Snider has covered Washington sports since 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @Snide_Remarks