Stan a Man Who, Like it or Not, Earned Every Eulogy and Then Some

Stan Savran's passing has inspired an outpouring of passionate reaction that he’d have thought was excessive. But when you do it as well as Stan did it for as long as Stan did it, recognition of a job well done and a life well lived is as inevitable as it is well-deserved.
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The volume of tributes has been such that by now Stan Savran would have had enough, long before now, actually.

The last thing he’d want to see, hear or read at this juncture would be another one.

But that said, he earned it, all of it.

And besides, this is my first and last chance to finally get the last word in as far as Stan is concerned.

So here we go …

The scene was a postgame media scrum with Bubby Brister, sometime in the late 1980s or perhaps 1990 or just after. Stan asked a question representative of how he often operated in such situations. The question was layered, it was nuanced and it took a while, quite a while, actually, to deliver in its entirety.

Brister tried to hang in and follow along as best he could for as long as he could. But eventually his concentration gave way to confusion and eventually resignation, you could see it on his face.

There was a long pause before Brister finally came up with an answer that was, at best, insufficient.

“(Bleep) it, I don’t know.”

Never caught off guard by such surprises, Stan fired back.

“Bubby, the answers aren’t supposed to be shorter than the questions.”

“I know,” Brister insisted. “But with you they always are.”

That actually wasn’t always the case. But Brister still managed to indirectly speak to the way Stan went about his business if not to the specific subject at that particular instant. Stan was thoughtful, thorough and thought-provoking in his queries. As Gene Collier so accurately pointed out in the Post-Gazette, Stan’s questions “were always calculated to produce new information rather than ‘sound.’”

It was an old-school dedication to his craft that worked well for Stan for about five decades, give or take, and for his viewers, readers and listeners.

Stan never wavered in his professionalism or his principles, even in a de-evolving media landscape in which both have gone out of style in the eyes of many.

It was what defined Stan as much as anything.

As did his work ethic.

That, too, was unwavering, right up until the very end.

Steelers president Art Rooney II captured that last week when he described for one of his final interactions with Stan.

Rooney spoke about a recent Zoom meeting that had been scheduled to begin discussions regarding the next class for induction into the Steelers’ Hall of Honor. Stan, a member of the committee that decides such things, had initially planned to participate but found he’d been unable to due to his rapidly failing health.

So he sent his regrets, but he didn’t stop there.

“He did give me his two candidates that he wanted to put out there,” Rooney added.

For Stan, that work-even-from-your-deathbed relentlessness came naturally.

He loved doing his job in whatever form he happened to be doing it because loved sports.

Longtime colleague Guy Junker emphasized admiringly during Stan’s memorial service this week how Stan had avoided becoming bitter and jaded over the years, as so many that are in the sports media for the long haul so often do.

Trust me, that’s no small feat.

And when you can pull it off for about five decades, give or take, it’s almost inconceivable.

That’s another reason why a lot of us are still talking about Stan, two weeks after his passing.

And that’s why he’ll continue to be remembered, respected and appreciated.

“He knew his business,” Rooney maintained. “He had the respect of everybody.

“Obviously, he said things on air over the years that I wasn’t that happy about but there was always some basis for it. It wasn’t like he was coming off the wall with something ridiculous. There was always some basis for what he was saying and you had to respect that.”

Stan would have approved of that much, at least.

He earned much more than mere respect from the people he worked with, from the people he worked for, the readers, listeners and viewers, and from the people he covered.

But for Stan, respect was always enough.

Categories: Mike Prisuta’s Sports Section