Many years ago I had broken some news about the Ticats – too many hits to the head has caused me to forget exactly which story – but I do remember hearing from Drew Edwards.
He was defending his territory as the team beat writer for The Hamilton Spectator. I was some young punk trying to prove myself in the business. The grey beard might disagree but the man who I’ve come to call “Eddie” – the best nickname he’s ever had – told me essentially to stay in my lane and stop breaking news.
Years later that same silver fox wanted me to join 3DownNation.com and provide all the scoops possible – and not ice cream, which he does like too. When Eddie first approached me about being part of the 3Down team I was skeptical: here was the same man who wanted to put the kibosh on my news as a young, green, Canadian football lover asking me to bust what I could for his site.
After many conversations, I jumped on board because I could see his passion and vision. Eddie pushed me to heights I never fathomed in various ways. It’s cliche to just use a blanket statement – many athletes talk about the little things without detail – so I’ll provide a few of what could be many examples.
Writing articles used to take me days in the beginning. Hours and hours of time spent pouring over the copy. He would tell me simply: write what you know. That line still bounces around in my head when I have writers’ block even though some stories I’m trying to put together – many times quickly – need to be first.
I used to have him go over every single word, dissect each headline until it was perfect. The process could take days and he remained mostly patient. For some reason he believed I was worth the time. It didn’t matter how early or late at night I bothered him, Eddie was there to take my call or answer yet another text.
Discussing sources was constant and Eddie used his vast experience as a reporter and from newsrooms to help me learn better than I could’ve at any institution. I used to tell him I was going to the Drew Edwards school of journalism. The best part: it was free.
And the most fun part: being able to undergo those teachings with a man who had a relentless drive. The Scratching Post Blog had a wild streak of posting for two consecutive years. That’s 730 days and every time by sundown there was a fresh story to take in for Ticats followers. It was that intensity for the craft that fueled the creation of 3Down.
Eddie wanted to develop a place that covered Canadian football exclusively – largely CFL – that was unbiased and adhered to his view of journalism. Which is exactly what he created, putting countless hours growing and developing the site to where it is today.
Our relationship reflected the hustle. As I grew more confident, Eddie challenged me and it’s benefited me greatly. He literally fed the hunger, preparing meals and always knowing when I needed to eat, partially because Eddie knew I wouldn’t speak up even if I was starving.
Many ideas, stories, podcasts and discussions were shared — often interrupted by breaking news that needed to be posted ASAP — at his kitchen table in the south end of Guelph. It came to feel like home and Eddie a brother from another mother.
Normally I’m very private and Eddie is for the most part, too. We only let people into our personal lives who we trust undoubtedly. But it needs to be said: his impact on my professional career and the CFL community is immeasurable.
One of my favourite phrases comes to mind: don’t talk about it, be about it. When it came to 3Down, Eddie embodied the heart of the site and we’ll strive to meet the high standards set out by him – minus the grey beard.