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Michael inspired many, including kid in Brooklyn

"The George Michael Sports Machine" changed my life.

As a child in Brooklyn, N.Y., my parents never let me stay up late enough to watch George Michael televise the Sunday sports highlights from that weird thing with the buttons. On Monday mornings, my friends in school would always talk about the touchdowns they saw from all the games around the country, thanks to Michael.

One night when my parents were out, my cousin fell asleep on the couch while watching me and my two younger brothers. That was the first night I saw Michael show videos from the day's games and talk about the action, which was the greatest thing in the world to me. Here was this guy on television showing games I didn't even know were being played across the country and explaining what people were seeing. I mean, what job could be better than that?

That show piqued my interest in sports reporting. From the moment I saw it, I knew I wanted to something like that. For a long time, I wanted to be like George Michael. I thought about becoming a sportscaster in high school and when I enrolled at the University of Southern California.

But I gravitated toward sportswriting and that turned out well for me. I first met Michael in 2007 when I joined the paper to cover the Redskins. He still was out at Redskins Park often that season to tape his "Redskins Report" that aired on Channel 4, and I got to know him a little bit. Even after NBC pulled the plug on the show at the end of last season, I still occasionally saw Michael and chatted with him.

I never told him, however, how he and his "sports machine" affected my life; I figured I'd have a chance later. On learning the sad news of Michael's death today, I thought about how cool it is to be in a position to inspire people. For a little kid in Brooklyn, that's definitely what he did.

Statement from Smith

"George Michael was a sports pioneer across the country, but especially in the Metropolitan DC area. As a native of this city, I enjoyed the passion, honesty and creativity he brought to our local sports. He exhibited the same love of sport that we have as fans and gave it to us through his shows. The Sports Machine, Redskins Report and his nightly broadcasts were a joy to watch.

"I, along with this city, will miss him." -- DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFL Players Association

By Jason Reid  |  December 24, 2009; 12:01 PM ET
Categories:  Jason Reid  
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Next: Haynesworth's frustration is no surprise

Comments

Just heard the news. As a DC native, this makes me very sad. He was my favorite growing up.

Posted by: jcabana | December 24, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I remember my uncle who worked at channel 4 taking me to the set of the sports machine to get george michaels autograph when i was younger. I got wally bruckners autograph instead

Posted by: ryjufox3 | December 24, 2009 12:20 PM | Report abuse

A sad day indeed. Michael clearly loved his job and did it well. But what separated him from others is that he had the character to recognize that the people around him were every bit as special.

Posted by: zcezcest1 | December 24, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

I also grew up with George Michaels...

You will be missed...

RIP...

Posted by: WRBD | December 24, 2009 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Nice column, Mr. Mayor.

thanks for sharing.

Posted by: DikShuttle | December 24, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Very sad to hear of this news-- GM and Frank Herzog were two sportscasters I'll always fondly remember in connection with the Skins...

Posted by: TDawg1 | December 24, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

RIP GM. You were one of a kind.

Posted by: mroctober | December 24, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

It's just a sad day... Before SportsCenter & SI (if anyone remembers) there was Sports Final & The syndicated Sports Machine... He was the nation's best sportscaster, even if your parents watched a different news cast, you had to switch over at 6:25 or 6:50 to watch George's sport's report because nobody was as good as he was, plus he covered wrestling of all things, a little boys dream.

The last time I heard George was just 1-2 months ago on the Mike Wise Show (106.7) & he sounded great! Nothing was mentioned of his health & I thought to myself, nice to see he is enjoying his retirement... I guess there was more going on than anyone knew. RIP George!

Posted by: tony325 | December 24, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

I remember GM as the firstest with the mostest when it came to sports reporting. Along with Shirley Povich, he put DC sports reporting on the map, and provided me (& countless others) with something to look forward to on Sunday nights. RIP, you've earned it!

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 24, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Sadly the lanscape of media reporting loses a true professional George Michael changed the way we watched local sports programming and although he inspired many copycats there's was only one sport's machine and along with his saturday seasonal reports on the Redskins and the Bullets/Wizards George made watching sports fun and informative, no doubt he'll be missed but i suspect he'll be missed more by Doreen and Jim his sidekicks at the 6&11pm news on channel 4 wrc-tv. RIP GEORGE.

Posted by: dargregmag | December 24, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Tony325,
I loved that he showed wrestling highlights(Fridays) and the 'plays of the month' were a must see.
The man took a stand for his employees when they tried to cut his budget and resigned when WRC wanted to cut his staff.
A stand up guy and one of the best in the sportscaster business... RIP GM!

Posted by: priceisright | December 24, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

dam george michael is dead...dam, rip

i was wanting to say that that was BS that Hayney got a flag and brandon jacobs didn't

total bias in officiating, needs to stop

Posted by: pabrian2003 | December 24, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

sports machine was covering sports when sportscenter was just a twinkle in daddy's eye

Posted by: pabrian2003 | December 24, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

The actual machine Micheal used to punch up the highlights was the coolest thing I ever saw at the time. I wanted to just touch the buttons on that machine just once.

Abe Pollin's gone...the dude that owns Ben's Chili Bowl is gone...now George Michael....damn...

...pass the egg nog!

Posted by: rickyroge | December 24, 2009 1:14 PM | Report abuse

Glenn Brenner was my all time favorite, but Michael had the sportsmachine which focused on more than what was going on locally in sports. He was ESPN before cable.

Posted by: ralston21 | December 24, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

About to have my dinner and enter the 12 Days of Inebriation. Happy Christmas from the UK everyone and, indeed, F Dallas.

Posted by: mikeysuperdons | December 24, 2009 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I would always try to time it to catch both Glen Brenner and G. Michael during their nightly sports. DC was blessed by two giants as well as some other top dudes like Herzog, and James Brown.

One thing I loved about Michael was that he had an unapologetic A-hole quality about him. I love that! Betcha you couldn't tell from my posts...

RIP Michaels!

Posted by: chrislarry | December 24, 2009 1:45 PM | Report abuse

This news is very sad. George Michael was both an institution in D.C., and a trendsetter nationwide. He will be deeply missed, but forever remembered.

Posted by: john24 | December 24, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

-RIP-

George Michael, Bob Ryan, Jim Vance, and Arch Campbell (no relation to Jason Campbell)

fond childhood memories of them all...

Posted by: Chia_Pet | December 24, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

When I was a kid, my family lived in New Zealand from 1990-1994. Football didn't exist there in virtually any form. But I remember scrolling through the six TV channels we had available at the time one late night (waaaaaaay past my bed time) and finding the George Michael Sports Machine broadcasting not only highlights from around the NFL. We had to beg our parents to let us stay up and watch. It became a special treat for my brother and I. Occasionally we were rewarded with the holiest of holy: 'Skins highlights.

Posted by: Egadman | December 24, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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