This is sad news from the sports media world. Paul Zimmerman, the grouchy football columnist better known as Dr. Z, suffered two strokes in late November and is currently on a leave of absence while he recovers. He'll survive, but how it'll affect the rest of his writing career is still undetermined. Peter King wrote a pretty fantastic tribute to the man in his latest column, highlighting some of Zimmerman's long-form football pieces that he used to write for SI before he became the Dr. Z persona full-time.
Here's an excerpt from his 1984 piece on Jack Lambert:
The painting hangs on the wall outside the office of Art Rooney Jr., the coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers' scouting operations. It's not the kind of thing you'd want your mother or your wife to see. It's what Attila must have looked like while he was sacking a village, or the way a Viking chieftain was with his blood lust up. Only this Viking wears No. 58 and he's dressed out in the gold and black of the Steelers, eyes flashing in a maniacal frenzy; blood flecking his nose; his mouth, minus three front teeth, bared in a hideous leer. Jack Lambert's portrait epitomizes the viciousness and cruelty of our national game. The portrait was done by Merv Corning. It was one of two he submitted to the Steelers' publicity director, Joe Gordon, for possible use as a program cover, and it was rejected immediately. Too scary. Rooney saw it. He called Corning. 'Can I buy the original?' he said. The deal was made, and Rooney hung it outside his office.
Get well soon, sir.