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Sunday, June 08, 2008
My Jim McKay Memory

It was in the spring of 1976, in London England. I was on a semester abroad, studying the parliamentary system and staying with about 30 other students at a small hotel in the Maida Vale section of town. It was an ordinary afternoon, and I happened to be studying in the front room of the hotel when the doorbell rang. I answered it and goggled at the visitor outside.

"You're Jim McKay," I said observantly.

"Yes, and you are?" he replied.

His son, Sean McManus (McKay's real last name) was on the program with us, and I had heard from somebody early in the semester that he had a famous dad.

"I watch Wide World of Sports every weekend," I gushed a bit as I led them into a waiting area, then dashed down the stairs. As the clip hints, McKay could make a tiddlywinks championship seem like an historic event. His son is currently the president of both CBS News and CBS Sports, and does a terrific job at the latter (the news section, which he inherited after the Rathergate fiasco, remains a mess). I don't remember all that much about Sean other than that he was as diametrically opposite from his father as he could be; quiet and reserved rather than ebullient and forceful. But they are both major figures in sports over the last 50 plus years.

McKay's big moment was the Munich Olympics of 1972, when Palestinian terrorists kidnapped 11 Israeli athletes at the Olympic Village. A botched rescue attempt resulted in the deaths of all the athletes and terrorists, as McKay reports near the end of the clip.

Jim McKay, dead at 86. Here's a tribute video from his son and Jim Nantz.

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