Longtime NFL Writer Don Banks Remembered As Trusted Voice
Longtime NFL writer DON BANKS, who had "just finished covering" the Pro Football HOF ceremonies this weekend, died in his sleep yesterday morning at age 57, according to Steve Gardner of USA TODAY. After spending the past three seasons with The Athletic-Boston, Banks was "recently hired by the Las Vegas Review-Journal to cover the Raiders." His debut story for the newspaper was published yesterday. Most football fans "knew Banks from his 17 seasons writing about the NFL for Sports Illustrated" (USA TODAY, 8/5). In Tampa, John Romano notes Banks "first broke into journalism as a sports clerk" at the St. Petersburg Times while attending USF. He then "started covering" the Buccaneers in '90 for the newspaper. After 15 years at the now-Tampa Bay Times, Banks moved to the Minneapolis Star Tribune to "become that paper's Vikings beat writer" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 8/5).
ONE OF THE BEST: NBCSPORTS.com's Peter King, who worked with Banks while at SI, writes Banks was an "NFL lifer." At SI, his Snap Judgments column on Sunday nights "became appointment reading for NFL fans." After leaving SI in '16, Banks "moved on to write about the league for NFL.com, Bleacher Report, Patriots.com and The Athletic." He was "known for his absolute impartiality, covering the league at a time when he both lampooned and praised" NFL Commissioner ROGER GOODELL (NBCSPORTS.com, 8/5). SI.com's Jenny Vrentas wrote Banks was the "voice of reason, both in his job and beyond it." He established himself as "one of the most reliable media voices by always finding a way to make sense of what we were all watching and talking about." When news of Banks' death broke last night, colleagues, competitors and NFL teams alike "tweeted out remembrances" (SI.com, 8/4). PFT's Mike Florio said Banks had "just started writing" for the Review-Journal, and his "first item was excellent" ("PFT," NBCSN, 8/5). ESPN Radio's Trey Wingo said Banks was "considered the conscience at Sports Illustrated." Wingo: "Don, you will be missed" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 8/5).
TWITTER REAX: The Athletic's Chris Burke tweeted, "I'm honored to call him a friend. Rest in peace, Don." The Ringer's Kevin Clark tweeted Banks "basically gave me a roadmap on how to operate when I was absolutely clueless. His patience and advice was incredible." SI's Vrentas: "When The MMQB began, Don Banks wrote a regular column called “The Conscience.” He was that both in his job and beyond. He was kind, encouraging and wise; one of the very best people you could be honored to know." The Philadelphia Inquirer's Jeff McLane tweeted Banks was a "rarity among NFL writers. Someone everybody liked." McLane: "He would often nail the tone of how to cover a big story. He was also a good friend. I will miss him." The AP's Tom Withers tweeted Banks was "always pleasant, professional, courteous when I was around him. My heartfelt sympathy to his family and many friends." The Athletic's Saad Yousuf tweeted he was "still in absolute shock about the passing of @DonBanks." Yousuf: "Wish I had gotten to meet him. Thoughts to his loved ones. Gutted." ESPN's Mike Reiss notes Patriots coach BILL BELICHICK at his press conference today gave his "condolences on the passing of Don Banks." ESPN's Kevin Seifert remembered one of his favorite Banks memories in a Twitter thread. BreakingT's Dominic Bonvissuto shared memories of his time with Banks (TWITTER.com, 8/5).