It sounds as if one of my favorite sports columnists probably won't be returning to the keyboard. Paul Zimmerman, Dr. Z of Sports Illustrated fame, suffered a pair of strokes this fall and then suffered a smaller third stroke while in his rehab facility. He still can't speak and has a host of physical ailments to overcome. (Peter King passed along an update on the final page of this week's Monday Morning QB column. It's at point #8 in the list.)
I always enjoyed Dr. Z because he was a thinking man's football analyst back in the days when thoughtful football analysis was in short supply. Come to think of it, thoughtful football analysis may be in shorter supply than ever in this, The Age of the Punditocracy. I always felt that he gave me his opinion based on what he saw and what he thought, not what somebody told him or what was popular. And I could also tell that he did a lot of homework to develop that opinion.
I had kind of lost track of him when I stopped reading Sports Illustrated on any sort of regular basis, and then I came across him on the Internet at SI.com a few years ago and have been again reading him regularly ever since. In addition to his columns he had a really good weekly letters column with a nice, casual tone and a lot of give-and-take between him and his readers. He was a wordsmith and a craftsman in the best way.
I hate losing a good columnist. When you read a good columnist over time you get a good appreciation for his perspective and his flaws and strengths. You also come to rely on that opinion to help give you to see more aspects of a thing than you might otherwise see on your own.
And to lose a man of words to a stroke that has left him speechless ... well, I don't know that I have words for that.
Best wishes on your path, Dr. Z.