Memories of Steadman, `the city's conscience'

January 07, 2001

The Sun's John Eisenberg summed it up perfectly in his Jan. 2 column: Baltimore will never be the same without John F. Steadman. John was not only the heart and soul of Baltimore sports, he was the city's conscience.

When I was privileged to work for John as a young reporter, he used to offer me money out of his own pocket so I could attend sports banquets. He also arranged a job for me in the press box at sold-out Colts games.

He was the most caring and compassionate human being I've ever known. He was a man of the people. He'll be dearly missed.

Leonard Arzt Silver Spring

`Courage ... not surprising'

Every once in a while, the image comes to mind of a high school coach who had emphasized how the word "great" is overused. The coach always seemed right about that.

In the case of John Steadman, though, the term really applied.

As someone trying to work in the same profession, I preferred to address John as "Mr. Steadman." He would dismiss such a greeting, in a kind of "cut the formalities" tone.

It boggles the mind to consider all he experienced, witnessed and chronicled during a half-century of writing about sports. Before Ravens games, John could enthrall a small audience around his table in the PSINet Stadium press lounge with his stories, insights and memories.

His courage fighting cancer seemed remarkable, from the moment he walked into a Super Bowl news conference two years ago in Miami showing the first signs of battling the disease.

Obviously, his loss is felt most deeply by his family and closest friends. But it must also be a major void for people who worked with Mr. Steadman for 30 or 40 years.

Those of us who still have dues to pay as sportswriters were privileged to get to know John just a little. As Sun columnist John Eisenberg wrote, Mr. Steadman made us all feel better about working in his profession.

He would never "big-time" anyone. Whether you worked for a 5,000-circulation weekly, a larger daily, or a broadcast network, he was interested in your well-being.

Needless to say, John's courage these past two years in the face of so much discomfort was startling but not surprising.

Happily, a man who was the conscience of Baltimore's NFL history lived through the city's 12-season absence from the league. He saw much of a 2000 season that built toward the joy nearly 70,000 fans experienced in watching a home playoff victory for the first time in 30 years.

Wishing him well in these recent months never seemed like enough. But anyone who met him was fortunate to have the opportunity.

And there certainly is no question Mr. Steadman was a great man.

Mike Lurie, CBS SportsLine Bel Air

`Writer par excellence'

As I sit here in Green Bay, I am moved to tears hearing about the death of one of the last Baltimore originals, John Steadman. John Eisenberg's words are a balm to some but show the rest of us what Mr. Steadman lived for and how he lived.

His dad was a deputy chief in the fire department long before I served there, and a building is named for him at Lombard and Eutaw streets. John Steadman spoke at that dedication with the fervor only he could and did it with grace and dignity.

Over my lifetime we have had people like Mr. Diz, Melvin Perkins, Jerry Turner, Stu Kerr, Captain Chesapeake, Charley Eckman and now John Steadman all pass to a better life.

Each of these individuals spoke in a different way, played to a different audience and loved what they did. John Steadman was a writer par excellence. I did not always agree with him, but, by golly, I knew he had done his homework.

God bless Mr. Steadman and his family.

Roger Melchior Green Bay, Wis.

`Stood above the crowd'

Of all of the people associated with the Baltimore Colts' long and glorious history, there was one who stood above the crowd: John Steadman.

Outside of Baltimore, most people knew John as a sportswriter. Baltimore Colts fans knew John as the keeper of the flame, the man who, through his writings, has kept our memories alive. First with the News-Post and later with The Sun, John reminded us of our heritage and warmed our nostalgic hearts with tales of yesterday's glories.

When the owner of the Colts slinked out of town and turned out the lights, it was John who kept the flame alive with stories of all that was good about our Colts.

Several years ago, John wrote one of his wonderful columns about a troubling trend by certain "uninformed dissenters in the media" who wrote that it was time to put aside the Colts and their past. These modern-day pundits said it was time to move on to the future and let the past go. A "forced closure," as John called it.

John concluded that such a call would never be heard, that the masses (translated: Colts fans) "have every right to revel in the glorious deeds of yesteryear."

It was through the writings of John Steadman that we reveled the most. John was not just a sportswriter; he was our historian and archivist. John felt what he wrote; he was one of us.

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