Yes, Mike Celizic really did wear that hat all the time. What you saw was always what you got with Mike, who passed away Wednesday from cancer at the age of 62.
He is survived by his wife Margaret and four children.
Celizic wrote for msnbc.com and NBCSports.com for 13 years, coming to the attention of msnbc.com editors when he made a few appearances for the MSNBC Cable network from Secaucus, N.J.
He started his sportswriting career in 1983 at The Record of Hackensack, N.J., and also wrote seven books, including “The Biggest Game of Them All: Notre Dame, Michigan State and the Fall of 1966.”
In his time with msnbc.com and NBCSports.com, he covered five Olympics, 10 Super Bowls, two U.S. Opens and countless NFL games. He penned “Whine of the Week,” blogged at Open Mike and wrote up to five times a week. There’s no official count, but he probably wrote more than 2,000 pieces.
Celizic reacted to breaking news, took calls from editors at 3 a.m. (“Hey, Mike, sorry to wake you, but there are reports that Barry Bonds took steroids”), and sometimes didn’t file until then (“Almost done, just touching it up.”) He was a freelancer, and he rarely turned down the opportunity to write.
Mike Celizic and his wife, Margaret. / Courtesy of the Celizic family
One of the best pieces he wrote was his final cancer journal for TODAYShow.com, in which he confronted his mortality. It’s a tear-jerker.
But he always tried to have fun with his writing. Asked at the Super Bowl to write a "How the Rams can win" column, his first thought was to make fun of the writer picking the Patriots.
Dressed to the nines with suit, tie and that ever-present hat, Celizic was old school. He watched the games and talked to players and formed his opinions from that, rather than watching the talk shows on ESPN.
He lamented one time that all the copy editors on the msnbc.com desk were too young and couldn’t appreciate the experience he brought to the job. Too bad he was talking to the one copy editor who was older than him, thereby earning the nickname “young guy” forevermore.
When Celizic would want to discuss an angle for a story, the conversations were never short, because he wanted to work through the idea and talk it out. He always wanted to debate and discuss — and even then, sometimes his pieces didn’t resemble the original angle.
Celizic was a talker as much as a writer — no outing to a restaurant, bar or golf course was short. He talked about handmade hats from South America, his golf game, politics, legalizing marijuana (somehow his stance on that kept making it into his blog), barbecuing, the Bush administration, Monica Lewinsky and so much more.
It’s hard to believe that voice has fallen silent. It’s far too soon, and he will be missed.