It was only fitting that our colleague, Ken Murray, retired this week without any fanfare. That was typical Kenny. He didn't want any speeches, farewell ceremonies, cakes or gifts. We all knew that when Kenny retired, it would be like Jonathan Ogden, except instead of turning in his jersey, Kenny would turn in his computer and shut off the lights without a word being said.
He basically closed out the final chapter of his long and distinguished career as one of the best pro football writers in America recently with a dinner that included the same bunch of guys he had been covering the Ravens with since 2000. It was a great time, nearly a decade of memories and laughs crammed into a few hours. We knew we were running out of time when they started to mop the floors.
I've known Kenny since the early 1980s, when I was a senior at Towson University and an intern at The News American. I remember our first meeting because he was the first NFL writer I had ever met. He wore a sleeveless black jacket, sported a beard and wore a tan linen cap -- what we used to call a "Howdy Dowdy" hat. Kenny probably didn't consider himself cool then, but I did because he was young, confident and had the job I wanted: covering the Baltimore Colts.
From that day, I've always watched and admired his work. The Baltimore Sun has had some great columnists and beat writers cover pro football in this town, but the best pure reporters to cover sports here were Mark Hyman and Kenny Murray. Kenny was meticulous and would perform countless interviews for any story, even if that included the water boy.
He was thorough, and if he wrote it, count on it: It was the truth. You never went to bed or woke up the next morning concerned about his making an error. Great reporters are great listeners, and that was Kenny. When people spoke, you could see numerous thoughts running through his mind. Whenever others gave him tips about possible news stories, he immediately asked: "How do you know that? Where did you get that from?"
Kenny always checked facts and sources, and he'd get so crazy about it at times that he would drive others nuts. He wasn't a physically big man, but Kenny asked tough questions. He never backed down from anyone or any story. He could be intimidating for a little dude. He could write anything, and did in his 30-year-plus career. From Maryland and Coppin State basketball to UMBC lacrosse to Towson football to the Preakness, he could report it as thoroughly as any of the specialized, so-called experts.
But Kenny had a love for football and journalism, and that was his unbeatable combination. Few could match the energy, excitement or the visions he painted in his stories about the old Colts, Dallas Cowboys, Baltimore Stallions and Ravens. About two weeks ago, Kenny and I talked about the changes in journalism and agreed that even though we didn't like some, we weren't going to complain about how it used to be, but just be happy we were involved when the business was at its best.
Kenny took his job very seriously. He drained every ounce out of himself to cover every aspect of a football game. Unfortunately, there were some who never got to know him as a good husband and father, a man who was the same on the road as he was at home. Sometimes he'd really let the hair down and he'd have this cackle that would make everybody laugh.
In the past couple of years, Kenny, Jamison Hensley, Ed Lee and I formed a strong team. We worked hard, but that didn't matter because we had fun. The chemistry was good. We're going to miss Kenny because he was a great person and an important part of our team. The Sun will miss his expertise. In our business, I think the best compliments don't always come from players or fans, but from our peers. With Kenny, he was a guy who was a tireless worker and was never bigger than the story he wrote.
He was a pro, and that's the ultimate compliment I can pay him.