So, not to get all sappy, but it would be really great if any of you Philly-based Deadspinners (or those from other parts of the country with kind souls) would take the time to read this piece about freelance journalist Brian Hickey. He's one of the smartest people on the planet, friend to many, a diehard — and surprisingly rational — Philly sports fan and just a quality human being.
"Boys Will Be Boys" author and Deadspin favorite Jeff Pearlman also knows Brian. He wrote this essay for his friend. Read on if you're so inclined. Please do what you can to help out.
We last spoke a little more than a week ago, when the Philadelphia Eagles were sitting ugly at 5-5-1 and everyone was calling for Donovan McNabb's head.
"Man," I told Brian Hickey, "your team stinks."
"Maybe," he said, "but I'm still standing behind my QB."
I found this hard to believe. Actually, impossible to believe. Once one of the league's elite, McNabb was now playing like Browning Neagle on roller blades. His passes fluttered, his timing was off, his judgment seemed that of a 10th grader. In short, he stunk. "How," I asked, "can you still believe in this guy? How can anything think Dono—"
Hickey, the biggest sports fan I've ever met, interrupted. Some 9 1/2 years ago, he had attended the NFL Draft at Madison Square Garden, and as other Philly fans booed their new quarterback while suffering through Ricky Williams envy, Hickey went out of his way to shake McNabb's hand and welcome him to town.
In other words, enough was enough.
"You know what," Hickey said. "It's easy to bash Donovan. But in the end, when he's as low as can be, the dude always finds a way to battle back. Always."
I can't help but think of those words tonight, as Brian Hickey—my longtime pal and the former managing editor of the Philadelphia City Paper—remains unconscious and in critical condition at Cooper Union Hospital.
Last Friday, after meeting up with some friends in Westmont, N.J., he was walking toward the train station on Atlantic Avenue in nearby Collingswood when a car slammed into him and sped off, leaving Hickey—who landed on his head—confused and bloodied, with a swollen brain and a cracked spine. For the ensuing 13 hours, Hickey's wife Angela frantically called everyone she knew in search of her husband. Finally, the police knocked on her door with sobering news.
"When officers arrived at the scene, they found the subject lying in the street with no vehicle here," said Capt. Richard Sarlo of the Collingswood Police Department. "They know what they hit. I mean, it not a secret to do it. And they just left the scene. It was a pretty cowardly act, if you ask me."
Cowardly is a receiver failing to cross the middle. Cowardly is lying about using steroids. This act was not, by any means, cowardly. No, it was evil. Pure, 100-percent evil. A decent person doesn't hit someone with a car, then drive away. And, if a decent person does hit someone with a car and then drive away, he wakes up the following morning and turns himself in. Immediately.
Brian Hickey is the rare homo Sapien I've never heard anyone utter a bad word about. At The Review, University of Delaware's student newspaper, he could either be found behind a computer trying to expose some corrupt local official or leaning out a window, smoking a cigarette and staring into the Newark, Del. night. He would destroy all comers in Jeopardy (Hickey is a Mensa member), and is as quick with Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre lyrics as he is, oh, geography or science. He's funny and kind, and never at a loss for words. Whenever we speak, the calls never begin with "Hey" or "Hello," but a simple, hip-hop-influenced "Yo!"
A lifelong Philly sports diehard, Hickey had been floating on a cloud for the past month, ever since he attended the Phillies' World Series victory parade and celebrated what he had assumed to be a impossibility. I still think back to 1993, when we worked as editors at The Review. Inside our crack den office was a small black-and-white television, and as other editors scurried this way and that, Hickey plopped himself down in front of the tube, screaming obscenities toward Mitch (Wild Thing) Williams as he blew the ultimate Philly fanatic's dream. In the ensuing years, Hickey latched onto everyone from Jerry Stackhouse and Allen Iverson to Eric Lindros and Mickey Morandini and Kevin Sefcik, eternally desperate for a championship.
This year, at long last, his wishes came true.
Now, I'm hoping for a wish of my own.