"So," I asked, "how do we do an issue dedicated to Art?"
It was as idea that Matt Tevsh and Keith Roerdink, my colleagues in Dallas, had mentioned a year or so ago. After all, Art Daley was Packer Report's treasure. A member of the Packers Hall of Fame, Daley covered championship teams coached by Curly Lambeau, Vince Lombardi and Mike Holmgren. Even at 94 and needing "that damned thing," as he called his walker, I think he attended every home game during the Packers' run to a fourth Super Bowl championship.
Art wouldn't want anything dedicated to him, but we didn't want to wait until it was too late.
Well, it was too late.
Two weeks ago, I got a call from Art's wife, Lorayne. Art had moved into a nursing home because of back problems and a touch of pneumonia.
I visited him for about an hour that afternoon. Of course, we talked about the Packers. Like me, he couldn't believe they had won the Super Bowl. Art, who began covering the team in 1941 and founded the Green Bay Packers Yearbook in 1960, was thrilled. But we talked more about other things, including a trip to Florida that we were leaving on the next day. He apologized for not having his column done for the magazine.
On Sunday, with Interstate 43 covered in snow for the final leg of our three-day drive back from Florida, my cell phone rang. It said "Art Daley."
Art Daley and Vince Lombardi.
And it was, as I listed to Mrs. Daley's voice mail.
Art was a great writer, to state the obvious. But I'll always remember Art the person.
A couple stories:
First, they always wanted to know about the baby. So, we brought little Grady over one afternoon and they had gotten him a present. It was light blue pajamas with dark blue footballs. Perfect, of course. It took Grady a couple months to grow into them. When he did, I took a picture and brought it over to the Daleys. I'll never forget what happened next. Art grabbed a picture frame off the shelf in the family room and put Grady in front of a picture of Art and Bart Starr.
Second, Art always had a story. Always. Before I left for the Super Bowl, he told me about playing with Terry Bradshaw during a Super Bowl golf outing. Somehow, they got talking about some sportswriter who they hadn't seen. Bradshaw asked if the writer had died; Art said he believed he had.
At a party later in the week, Bradshaw spotted Art, ran over to him, picked him up and began spinning him around, exclaiming, "He's not dead! He's not dead!"
Art's passing is a big loss. The Packers are the Packers because of their history. With Art's passing and with former team historian Lee Remmel in poor health, there's nobody left with such a deep and rich knowledge of that history.
Beyond the football, I'll miss the stories — of being chided by Lambeau about smoking in the morning, about how he ticked off Lombardi by putting a photo of Lambeau and Lombardi on the cover of the Yearbook, about how the Packers had "too many damned coaches." I'll miss hearing Art loudly cursing a bad play — something that's forbidden for the rest of us in the press box. I'll even miss typing in his column, which he painstakingly typed out every month in old-school fashion on his typewriter with a bunch of handwritten corrections.
But most of all, I'll just miss shaking Art's hand and saying, "How ya doing, boss?" before BS'ing for an hour on the couch in his office.
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.