I wanted to take some time this week to acknowledge a great friend of mine, Jason Feller, who died of melanoma on Monday. Feller was part of the original team that launched the NFL Media newsroom back in 2007.
We became fast friends. I don't think there was anybody as invested in lost causes (sports-wise) than Jason. He was a die-hard D.C. sports fan. And because of his age (he was 39), he didn't really get to enjoy the Nationals because he grew up an Orioles fan. I will admit I took way too much delight in his misery over the Washington Football Team. Nobody suffered as much for their team than Jason. And with Washington, he suffered. A lot. But it never dulled his passion which was infectious. He was the life of the party in the newsroom when the games were playing. And not just Washington. But football, March Madness, anything.
He was well-rounded. We'd argue about inane sports topics like we were some overnight sports talk show. And I will tell you now, the San Francisco Giants' three World Series in five years does count as a dynasty.
We remained good friends after he left. I saw him meet the girl of his dreams. Have a beautiful family. Become such an awesome dad. Become such a great man that you would be proud to call a friend.
It's almost fitting he passed on Monday night. We worked Monday nights for years. Doing the Monday night late shift. I'll never forget the Greg Jennings Monday Night Football game in 2007. I was in a fantasy match against one of my rivals in my league of record. I was holding off Brett Favre late, but I suddenly became very nervous because the Broncos (down three at the time) were starting to move into the red zone. Feller told me not to worry, because my eight-point lead should hold because Favre wouldn't have enough time if the Broncos scored. Which would have been true. If the Broncos scored a touchdown. Not if the Broncos kicked a field goal to send the game into overtime. Feller looked like Terry Benedict in Ocean's 11 when he realized that somebody had hacked into his vault as I explained this to him. He chuckled and tried to reassure me. But he knew he jinxed my time.
"The Broncos will punch it in here," Jason assured me.
The Broncos kicked a field goal.
Next thing you know, Favre threw a bomb to Jennings. Game over. I lost my match. I might have lost my mind. And there was Feller. He's not the kind of guy who will purposely tease you in a moment like that. I'm the kind of jerk who would do that. Feller, as he always did, was trying his best to comfort me. To empathize with me. He was so earnest. So sincere. And it made me so, so mad. But I loved him for it.
We had many moments like that for years at NFL.com. I've never met another person in the world like him. And I'm going to miss him tremendously. Enjoy your friends.