The sad news of Bob McNamara's death Sunday night caused me to reflect on times I spent around Bob and what a genuinely nice and caring man he was to everyone in his presence. I didn't know him well, but he always treated me like a friend.
I started covering Gophers football in 2003 but actually met Bob a year early at a "Save Gopher Sports" fundraiser that he helped put together. Three non-revenue sports were in danger of being eliminated until Bob, and others, stepped forward to raise enough money to save them.
That was Bob McNamara in a nutshell.
You won't find a more passionate and loyal Gopher fan than McNamara. I'm guessing most big-time college programs have their own version of Bob McNamara, but I was always impressed by how deeply McNamara cared about the Gophers. It came through in every conversation I ever had with him.
Usually a few times a year, my editor Dennis Brackin and I would have lunch with Bob. Sometimes he'd invite a few of his friends. I got a kick out of hearing stories about their playing days and what Gophers football meant in this town back then.
A few years ago after Nebraska had joined the Big Ten, I interviewed Bob about the fact that he went 3-0 against Nebraska as a player. He joked that he liked to use that personal trivia on occasion.
"I'll see if I can make a bet, see if anyone will believe me," he said.
Another memory came during Tim Brewster's first season as football coach. I was still the beat writer, and Brewster allowed me to shadow him the week of the season opener.
One morning, I was in a meeting room with Brewster and his staff when an assistant knocked on the door at 7:30 a.m. He told Brewster that Bob McNamara was in his office.
McNamara had stopped by to discuss a fundraising idea for TCF Bank Stadium with Brewster and to wish him luck in his first game as Gophers coach.
Chip Scoggins is a Star Tribune sports columnist. He previously covered the Minnesota Vikings for four years, starting in 2008. In addition, he covered college football for five years. Chip has been with the Star Tribune since January 2000. He can be followed on twitter at @chipscoggins.
Jody Adams played point guard for Pat Summitt on the 1991 national championship team and was a Gophers assistant from 1997-2000. She's now the women's coach at Wichita State and wrote a tribute to her mentor.
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