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Tuesday, 22 December 2015 10:46
2015 Death of the NFL PR guys: Mosher, Terry Bledsoe and Bill McGrane
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finksby Jim W. Miller
NFL teams are filled with stories, most of them about good and bad coaches, good and bad players, and general managers whose reputations are determined by how many of each they hire. But one guy whose head is usually just beneath the line of fire is the public relations director, or “PR” man.

NFL, New Orleans Saints, Curt Mosher, Terry Bledsoe, Bill McGrane

In the last six months, three men who had sterling reputations as NFL PR guys wrote their last releases, if that’s the way to describe the deaths of men who toiled just behind the headlines. All three - Curt Mosher, Terry Bledsoe and Bill McGrane - were my friends, and at various times in my 20-year NFL career, they were mentors to a puppy of a PR guy, learning at their feet.

The first loss came on July 13 when Curt Mosher died at age 82 from the effects of Parkinson’s. Curt, with whom I worked at the NFL Management Council in 1982-83, was one of the first PR guys hired by the Dallas Cowboys. Curt worked with GM Tex Schramm and Coach Tom Landry to mold what became “America’s Team.” Curt proudly claimed he was from Cleo Springs, Oklahoma, but to anyone who knew him, he was a glib Texan, whose right hand usually held a cigarette in two fingers while clutching a cold Lone Star in his palm.  Curt joined the Air Force out of the University of Oklahoma and served in Korea before returning home to become a newspaperman in Kansas and Nebraska. He joined the Cowboys in 1967 and became assistant GM of the expansion Tampa Bay Bucs in 1975.

Curt spent time with the Falcons before joining us at the NFL Management Council. When the NFL players went on strike in 1982, Curt’s job was to man the “bunker” at our Fifth Avenue headquarters and talk to each NFL club every day to get reports that pertained to the strike. After working hours, Curt and I joined our boss Jack Donlan and the rest of our staff at late night strategy sessions at Runyon’s bar at 305 E. 50th street where New York media mavens like Mike Lupica, Dick Schaap, Terry O’Neill and others reveled as much in Curt’s war stories as they did about strike news.

I shared two major connections with Terry Bledsoe, who died on December 12 at age 81 after a long illness. I succeeded Bledsoe as PR guy for the NFL Management Council, and we shared a club owner, albeit several years apart. Bledsoe, a former sportswriter and columnist for the Milwaukee Journal, left the Management Council after he was named assistant general manager of the New York Giants in 1977 and later became GM of the Buffalo Bills in 1984.

I had heard owner Ralph Wilson was a little wacky, but Bledsoe confirmed it when he told me that Wilson fired him in 1985 for “a lack of respect.” The hanging offense came when Bledsoe put his feet up on Wilson’s desk during a casual conversation in the owner’s office. Of course, I learned a lot more about Wilson’s erratic nature when I worked for him in 1997-98. Bledsoe also had a military connection, but it was not his service. His father was killed in the Battle of the Bulge during the winter of 1944-45.

Just two weeks after Bledsoe’s death, we lost Bill McGrane at age 82 from leukemia. Bill and I shared many common interests, not the least of which was the fact that Bill was Jim Finks’ bagman years before I got the job. Bill was born in Iowa, the son of a sportswriter, and after service in the U.S. Army, began his career in journalism with the Des Moines Register. In the early 1960s, McGrane moved to the Minneapolis Tribune where he covered the Minnesota Vikings and their new GM, Jim Finks. 

Visit Jim W. Miller's blog

(Photo: Jim Finks)

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 22 December 2015 11:22
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