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Jack Craig: Watching the Watchmen

Getty Images / Sporting News

Jack Craig: Watching the Watchmen

In 1967, a 37-year-old copy editor named John "Jack" Craig was called over to the desk of his boss, editor Ernie Roberts. Roberts had an assignment for him — watch the Packers vs. Cowboys NFL championship game on TV and write about it for the Boston Globe. Focus not on the game, but the telecast.

The Ice Bowl, as that legendary game became known, is widely considered one of the best ever played. But few know that it also launched a cottage industry of sports media coverage.

Today untold numbers of writers with platforms big and small routinely critique the media coverage of sports (try typing "LeBron James" and "ESPN coverage" into Google and see if you get any results), but nobody was doing it before Craig established the niche. His trailblazing SporTView column ran for 29 years in the Boston Globe, and became a must read for sports insiders and fans alike. Broadcasters respected his opinions (he had a lot of them) and feared his wrath.

"Jack really was the one we had to answer to," Bob Lobel, longtime sports anchor at Boston’s WBZ-TV recently told Boston.com. "It wasn’t our bosses, we had to answer to Jack Craig. He was always on our minds."

Such was the demand for his services in the budding field of sports radio and TV criticism that he also wrote a weekly column for The Sporting News and contributed to Sports Illustrated under a pseudonym.

Craig died suddenly on July 9, 2010, at the age of 81. Ironically, among the sports media critics whose careers he helped make possible, his passing went largely under reported, focused as they were on coverage of the World Cup, LeBron James's big announcement, and the death of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner.

That so many were so busy covering sports coverage is perhaps the most fitting tribute Jack Craig could have hoped for.