I heard his voice one time over the cellphone. He was busy, but he was willing to talk to me. I joined the Professional Football Researchers Association (PFRA) and I wanted sample copies of the newsletters. The day I called the PFRA editor, Bob Carroll, his secretary was not in the office. He was an expert in the history of the National Football League (NFL).
A few days later I received the newsletters.
I only knew Bob Carroll through the Internet and email communications. However when I visited Canton, Ohio I told Jerry Csaki, the HOF education director, how Bob helped me write my first historical article, entitled, “A Gleam of Dawn.”
The experience of writing an article for The Coffin Corner was a treasured one. When I saw the beautiful, original artwork in the publication, I knew that I was positioned near a great man as I struggled to get my article up to his standards.
I so clearly remember writing about six versions of my article. I still have each and every email from Bob Carroll. I was astonished today after reading my old mail. I noticed that Bob Carroll passed away in his sleep on August 25, 2009.
I was so busy starting my new semester in college teaching that I simply never opened all of my newsletters and publications.
Bob, in my opinion, was a perfectionist when it came to recording NFL history. He asked me to add so many details. He reminded me, time and time again, that it was my article but that it would be better if I adhered to his advice.
I listened. I learned. And, my territory of readership increased in the world of professional football and sports writing.
Before I published my article, I sent in a two year membership. I knew that an affiliation with the organization that Bob Carroll so dearly loved would add dimension to my interest in sports writing.
I visited the Pro Football Hall of Fame in June, 2009. While I sat in Jerry Csaki’s office, I told him about my article and that Bob was so helpful in determining the style, scope and content of the article.
Csaki said to me, “Do you know him?” I answered, “Only through emails.” Csaki then showed me a documentary that Bob had contributed to and he showed me his picture. I smiled. He looked so peaceful and fatherly.
Csaki let me know that Bob often conducted workshops at the Hall of Fame. I told Csaki, I would be interested in attending some time in the future.
Although I am headed to Cleveland and to the Hall of Fame, again, in a few days, the visit will take on another character this time.
I know that I must complete the book that I told Bob I wanted to write. I know that I can not delay the project any longer.
Bob actually gave me an assignment and I told him I would start it this Fall semester. I was gearing up to start it, and then, on Sept. 27, I learned that he left us, in a peaceful way, by transitioning during his sleep.
I am writing this tribute to a man whose family has requested that we make contributions to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, in Bob Carroll’s memory.
As for me, I am so grateful to have met Bob Carroll through my writing experiences. I was told by my father that “a person’s gift will make room for him and bring him before great men."
I have experienced mentoring and sharing with a great man, Bob Carroll. His illustrious contributions and beautiful artwork will forever grace the halls of history.
Finally, I think back to the time I started preparing to write about sports.
I can truly say that something helped me increase my territory, and have my voice heard in another domain, because of the kindness and eloquent gifts of Mr. Bob Carroll.
Indeed, I have had my Jabez experience, and my experiences in sports writing have been greatly enriched.
Thank you, sir.
Robert (Bob) N. Carroll Jr. (July 10, 1936 - Aug. 25, 2009)