Rest in Peace – Jerry Green
So sorry to hear of the passing of long time Detroit newspaper sports columnist Jerry Green. I guess it is inevitable that we are losing some of the icons from our younger years that we looked up to and revered in our profession. I mean after all, Father Time is unbeaten.
My remembrance of Jerry comes from my early days as a sports junkie. Before I was a sports broadcaster, I was like everyone else in Michigan…I was a Detroit sports fan. I think back fondly to Sunday mornings when we would get the Detroit Free Press and the Detroit News delivered to our house. They were two distinctly separate newspapers. They each had their own staff, they were competitors, and they were a joy to read. You would take your time, maybe an hour or more, over Sunday morning coffee and take in the news, opinions, and uniqueness of the Detroit landscape as described by those great journalists at both papers.
The sports sections were the best for me. If you are of my generation, I’m sure you remember reading Joe Falls as the main sports columnist for the Free Press, and Jerry Green was the main guy for the News. They were like dueling writers. I’m sure other cities and papers had similar scenario’s, but, Green and Falls were the big star quarterbacks for their teams. It was a joy to spend time with them and their columns. Sometimes I agreed, sometimes they made me mad, but I never did not read their work.
When my broadcasting career brought me to Detroit in 1977, I got the chance to work the same beat. I would see Jerry and Joe at Michigan games, at Tiger Stadium, and the old Olympia and Cobo. When I got to interact with them, I truly thought I was hanging out with royalty. They ruled the press boxes, and they were afforded star status at these venues as they should.
At some point, I had the chance to sit down and have a long chat with Jerry Green. I found out, to my surprise, he had a wonderful impression of the University of Michigan. Because of my affiliation with the Wolverines, we had a common love for the place. We never forgot our mutual appreciation for the University and those who played or coached there. He was an absolute encyclopedia about the history of U of M sports. I marveled at his recall of the icons like Oosterbaan, Crisler, Elliot, Canham, and players he covered. At one point Jerry told me of an article he had written on Ron Kramer, back when Kramer was still in school. Jerry actually followed Kramer around Ann Arbor for a day to get a feel for Kramer and his life on campus. At that point, Jerry had me! I was a huge fan of Kramer and I was honored that Ron considered me a friend.
In his later years whenever I saw Jerry, we talked of Michigan and Kramer. We both smiled at our memories of our friend, and the relationships we shared with men like Schembechler and Canham. Jerry was without question, a very talented and dedicated sports journalist, but in my opinion he was a lot more. He became a friend to some of those he wrote about. He never compromised his independence, and he was fair and well-reasoned. I know you may have heard this before, but, they don’t make ‘em like Jerry Green much any more.
While he is well known for his long and incredible string of seeing and covering every Super Bowl ever played until the 2023 game, that streak doesn’t do him justice. Covering and reporting on a game was like falling off a log for Jerry Green. His legacy is in the fabric of all his work. He was one of those who had the ability to make it all human. Rest in Peace Jerry, you ran a great race.