Full Circle: The Genius
The world just lost a good friend of mine

I had a friend. His name was Steve. We used to have parties. Big parties. A lot of strange people, a lot of Mateus rose, a lot of drippy brie. I would wake up on a Saturday morning and start calling friends at random, people who had nothing in common other than they were friends.

We would invite them to come to Marlton and sit on our yellow and black striped Herculon couch. Or in our big, black beanbag chairs. If they were really close friends, we would let them go upstairs and roll around on our waterbed.

At one of these parties, one where 50 people tried to eat from the same box of Ritz crackers, my friend Steve brought a very primitive video camera and shot footage of everyone there. He got down on his knees on the gold shag carpet to get a better angle. Then he held the camera up over his head to get a better view. Most people there thought he was crazy. But it was a great video, a video that showed people in a whole new light. I wish I had saved that video, because my friend Steve went on to win 35 Emmys.

When we finished watching it, Steve, who lived on the Main Line and worked in town, turned to me and said, “I don’t really spend much time in Jersey. It’s pretty nice over here. Let me ask you something. Are you close to the Turnpike?”

“About seven minutes,” I said.

“Hmm,” he said, “we need to go to the NFL offices in New York all the time with our film. It takes too long for us now to get through the Philly traffic to get to the Turnpike and make our deadlines. And you’ve seen our offices. They’re tiny. I want to grow my company, but space in Philly is way too expensive. Are there office parks near the Turnpike?”

“Sure, there are plenty of them in Mt. Laurel, right near the bus station.”

“Cool,” he said, “I’m glad I came over tonight. I think I’m going to start looking for a new place on Monday.”

Steve would go on to find office space in Mt. Laurel, right near the bus station. And he would go on to change the way people watched football.

As years, went by, I would go on to become his official biographer, as he used to laugh out loud and say. He laughed a lot, Steve. It was a big laugh, a bold laugh, a laugh that filled a room.

Every place I worked, I would find a reason to write about him. In Philly, I would sit with him and Tim Rossovich, the Eagle who ate glass, in his living room, the one with the electric chair in the middle. He would tell me this long story about how he got the electric chair from Blacksburg Prison in Illinois, how the warden was willing to trade it to him for some NFL films the inmates wanted to see, because Illinois had done away with the death penalty. I loved the story and printed every word of it.

And, if too much time had passed between stories, he’d find the angle. Like when he called me one day in New York and said, “Are you doing anything next weekend? Forget it. You’re coming to the Super Bowl with me. I’m making you part of my crew. We’ll make a little history.”

Steve made history everywhere he went, with everything he touched. You could just feel the aura around him. Steve was, simply, a creative genius. He thought of things no one else thought of. He saw things no one else saw.

By the way, he would tell me, years later, that he made up that whole electric chair story, that the chair had been built by one of his carpenters at work. But I could never get mad at Steve for fooling me. No one could ever get mad at Steve. He was just that kind of guy. To know him was to love him.

November 2012
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